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GPSO Monthly E-News: August 2013

In this Issue:

Assistantship Available: Fall 2013

Work Available: Adaptive Technology and Accessibility Center

Call for Applications: GPSO Elected and Appointed Officers

Orientation Week Events: Social Hour, Health Insurance Q&A, Organization Fairs, New Student Picnic

Syllabus Makeover: Guest article via The Chronicle for Higher Education

Get Involved: Step UP! IU

GPSO plans your weekends!


Assistantship Available: Fall 2013

Additional assistantships posted at


The Center for the Study of the Middle East, African Studies Center, Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Studies, East Asian Studies Center, and Russian and East European Institute welcome applications for a Graduate Assistantship in the Fall Semester of the 2013-14 academic year. The position is open to ABD students enrolled in G901 only.

The GA appointment will require an effort of 20 hours/week throughout the Fall Semester. The GA will assist with all administrative, financial, organizational, and pedagogical aspects pertaining to a series of workshops for middle and high school teachers on the teaching of world history/geography.

Duties include:

  • Scheduling and attending to logistical arrangements for two workshops to be held in two different regions of Indiana

  • Composing and disseminating announcements of upcoming workshops to middle and high school teachers who serve at schools of the regions in question

  • Coordinating the work of IU doctoral students and other presenters at the workshops

  • Developing and disseminating classroom activities based on workshop presentations for use at middle and high school level

  • Processing financial transactions that include supply orders, payments for substitute teachers, travel reimbursements

  • Assembling and organizing materials from current and previous workshops in preparation for launch of a webpage devoted to the project

Desired Skills/Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with middle/high school social studies curricula

  • Coursework and/or work experience in lesson plan development for middle/high school

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

  • Ability to learn IU financial systems

  • Good computer skills

Eligibility & Stipend:

Graduate Students enrolled in G901 are eligible to apply.  The GA will receive a stipend of $7,875, paid out in five installments from mid-September through mid-December, and health insurance.

Application deadline is August 7. Please submit the following to Mark Trotter, Associate Director/Russian and East European Institute, at

  • letter of application addressing preferred skills and qualifications;

  • CV or resume;

  • two letters of recommendation from work supervisors and/or graduate faculty.

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Work Available: Adaptive Technology and Accessibility Center

Additional work opportunities posted at

Are you looking for a part time hourly position with flexible hours (about 10-15 hours a week; more hours at the start of a semester and tapers off once your academic workload goes up)? Please consider applying to this position. It’s on campus in the Herman B Wells Library!

Job title: Alternate Media Editor
Department: UITS Adaptive Technology and Accessibility Center (located on the main floor of the Wells Library, just inside of the West tower)
Contact Person: Brian Richwine
Phone: (812) 856-2757

Evening / Weekend hours required: No
Hours / week: 10 – 15
Pay Rate: $8.25 / Hour
Work Study: No
How to Apply: Send resume to Brian Richwine at the above email address. In your email, please use the subject line “Alternate Media Editor Application”.

Job description: The successful candidate would assist the Adaptive Technology and Accessibility Center (ATAC) in their role of supporting students, faculty, and staff with disabilities to be successful at Indiana University. We work to make sure books, e-texts, and other media and course materials are accessible and usable for people with disabilities. Successful candidate will learn about issues that determine a document’s accessibility, how to produce accessible documents, and how to convert inaccessible documents to an accessible format while supporting students in a higher education environment.

Job responsibilities:

  • Learn and master accessible Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Adobe PDF file creation

  • Edit materials according to the ATAC’s accessible document creation standards

  • Must be able to describe images, charts, and tables for the visually impaired according to Science, Technology and Math (STEM) guidelines: (

  • Track work, report metrics, and organize tasks in an Excel spreadsheet and via email

  • Scan and digitize materials


  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

  • Efficient and detail oriented

  • Working knowledge of MS Office applications, particularly Word, PowerPoint and Excel

  • Personable and have excellent customer service skills

  • Able to work effectively and efficiently with a minimum of supervision

  • Available to work a minimum of two daytime shifts within the work week

  • Proficiency in foreign languages and/or mathematics is preferred, but not required

  • Skilled at working with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop is preferred, but not required

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Call for Applications: GPSO Elected and Appointed Officers

The IU Graduate and Professional Student Organization is seeking students to run for Vice President and Treasurer for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Elections for these positions will be held in September, and nominations will be accepted in August. Interested students should direct questions to GPSO President Brady Harman at

Additionally, the GPSO is accepting applications for the positions of Benefits Officer and Sustainability Officer for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The Benefits Officer addresses the benefit needs of Student Academic Appointees (SAA’s) and student employees, specifically health insurance, stipends, fee remission structure and related employment issues. The position seeks to recommend improvements to benefit and compensation policies for all graduate and professional students.

The Sustainability Officer addresses issues related to sustainability within the GPSO and campus communities. Examples of issues addressed are recycling, transportation, carbon emissions and sustainable growth.

Interested graduate students should contact for more information on the responsibilities, remuneration, and application process.

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Orientation Week Events

Join GPSO for various information and social events during orientation week - it's not just for new students!

  • August 22, 2-4pm: Get Oriented @ IU (Wells Library, Main Lobby)

  • August 23, 2pm and 3pm: Health Insurance Q&A Sessions (Wells Library, E174)

  • August 23, 7-9pm: Social Hour, with free FARM Bloomington appetizers (Root Cellar)

  • August 24, 2-4pm: New Grad Student Picnic, with free food and drinks (location TBD - stay tuned to our Facebook page and website)

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Guest Article: Syllabus Extreme Makeover

Natalie Houston in The Chronicle of Higher Education ProfHacker

If you are creating your very first syllabus, there are a number of online resources and tutorials that will guideyou through the process, whether it’s creating the actual syllabus documentor designing a course from scratch.

But if you’ve been teaching for a while, it’s more likely that rather than start from scratch, you’ll be pulling out an old syllabus and revising it.  Whether you’re teaching the same course or not, most syllabi include some consistent information:  how to contact you, your course policies, and so forth.  When you’re busy (and who isn’t), it’s time effective to just reuse chunks of policy text from last time.

I’ll confess to having used the same basic syllabus design for over a decade, before I finally changed things up last year.   I’d been laboring under the fairly commonplace directive to “put everything important about the course into the syllabus.”  Thus a document that could help you explain the content and rationale  of the course to students, in practice often winds up accreting more and more policy:  if you have a disruptive group of students one term, then you add another policy about student behavior.  Maybe your institution adds some new requirements about how academic honesty policy has to be explained.  My syllabi had just kept expanding until a typical one was three or four pages of small font and tedious prose.

(I do want to acknowledge, however, that because at many universities the syllabus functions as a kind of contract, many of us are required to include any policies that could affect student grades (academic honesty, late work, participation, etc).   Or even if it’s not required, it certainly helps, you should you ever have grades contested through a university appeal process.)

But thinking about web design principles,  and changes in student reading habits, led me to take a good look at my syllabus as if I were actually its reader rather than its writer.   I realized it was like a typical family room: you start out with a couch you like well enough (or maybe it was handed down to you if you’re a grad student/junior faculty). And then you gradually add other stuff to the room.  Things get kind of worn down; maybe there’s a pile of clutter on the coffee table. Until finally you look around and thinkthis needs a serious overhaul.   My favorite moment on the redecoration shows is when they clear everything out of the room. What was a frumpy, crowded space suddenly looks full of possibility. Maybe it will become a home office, or a meditation room, or some amazing modern combo of the two.

So, here’s how I approached an extreme makeover of my syllabus. First, print out a copy of your old syllabus.  Sit down and try to imagine seeing it for the first time.

  • What does your syllabus suggest about you and your course? A syllabus serves as one of the few pieces of information students have during the first day with which to assess whether you and your course will be a good match for them.    The appearance, tone, and style of your syllabus is inevitably already telling your students something about your approach to them and to the course.  Is it saying what you want?

  • What information or format, if any, does your institution require? Setting aside debates about the wisdom of such policies, it’s definitely worth knowing if there are guidelines you’re supposed to follow.

  • What course policies are truly important to you?  Can they be simplified or distilled into a few key principles? For instance, a lot of specifics about student behavior (no cell phones, no walking in 20 minutes late, etc) could be grouped together under Community RespectProfessionalism, or Responsibility, depending on your teaching style, the student population, and the type of course. Identifying your key principles will help you clarify (for yourself and your students) why  your policies exist, and what they’re intended to do.

  • What information is essential for the first day? What might be better absorbed later on, or in a separate document? My syllabus always includes information about how the course grade will be calculated — 25% for this assignment, 20% for another.  But specific grading scales or rubrics for each assignment are handed out separately on another day.

Then it’s time for the makeover.  Start with a blank document and work from scratch to rebuild your new syllabus.  Using a different font, type in all of the information you’ve decided is absolutely essential. Doing this from scratch helps you become more aware of the value of each element you’re including and encourages rewording and distilling them down as much as possible.  It also helps ensure that you’re creating something new.   Resist the urge to just copy in huge blocks of text from your old syllabus.

Once you’ve put in the essentials, take a look at it from a design perspective.  Most of us don’t read huge blocks of text online very easily or willingly.  Even if your syllabus is paper-only, it’s still worth considering breaking up the text with headings, columns, tables, or graphic devices.   Good design can help readers find the information they need, and focus on what’s important.

If there are sections of information you’ve decided to move to a separate document, go ahead now and create those documents or put a reminder in your calendar to do so. You don’t want to be caught short later in the term without them.

Yes, it takes a little time to do a makeover.  But clearing out the clutter and refurbishing the space does a lot for both your family room and your syllabus.

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Get Involved: Step UP! IU

The IU Culture of Care initiative is looking for bright, talented students with strong public speaking skills to join our peer facilitation team for the Step UP! IU bystander intervention program.  Step UP! IU is a 90 minute workshop that teaches students how to overcome bystander behavior and how to help their peers in situations involving sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse, hazing, discrimination, harassment and mental health.  Student Facilitators will be trained and paired with a Faculty/Staff member to present Step UP! IU to faculty/staff, student groups, residence hall floors and classes.

We are interested in students who have a GPA of a 2.5 or higher, and are able to have conversations with their peers on difficult topics.  We are looking for a diverse group of student leaders who have the ability to connect with a variety of different audiences, have critical thinking skills and are able to think on their feet.  Student Facilitators will be asked to present 3 – 4 presentations a semester.  

At this time we are asking for nominations of students to recruit to serve as Student Facilitators.  Please email with names and email addresses of students that you think would be good additions to our team by August 5th.  Nominated students will be emailed and ask to submit an application and selected applicants will then be interviewed prior to selection.  Facilitators will not be compensated financially, however, there may be an opportunity in the future to receive course credit through the Lead IU program.

Step UP! IU is a part of the Culture of Care initiative ( aimed at creating a campus community focused on Hoosiers having the Courage to Care and helping one another.  If you would like to learn more about the Step UP! IU program, please visit information about the training and how to request a program at the following link:

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GPSO plans your weekends!

August 2 - 4

  • August 2, 5-8:30pm: First Friday Evening Science of Art - Clay Sculpture (Wonderlab, half price admission)

  • August 3, 9-11:30am: Tomato Tasting at the Market (Community Farmers' Market, free)

  • August 4, 6:30pm: World Dance Music - Afro Hoosier International in the Park (Bryan Park, free)

August 9 - 11

  • August 9, 10am-4pm: The Roaring Twenties (Monroe County History Center, $2 adults/$1 kids)

  • August 10, 10pm: New Wave Night - 80's Dance Party (Root Cellar, free)

  • August 11, 1-6pm: Picnics at Creekbend (Creekbend Vineyard, free entry/$5 tastings)

August 16 - 18

  • August 16, 9pm: Fonda & the County Road Band (Eagle Pointe Golf Resort, free)

  • August 17, 10am-1pm: Volunteer Networkis' Community Volunteer Fair (Farmers' Market, free)

  • August 18, 6:30pm: Post Modern Jazz Quartet (Bryan Park, free)

August 23-25

  • August 23, dusk: Movies in the Park - The Muppet Movie, (Bryan Park, free)

  • August 24, 11:30am-11pm: Grant Street Jazz Fest (Grant Street, free)

  • August 25, 1:30-4:30pm: National Dog Day Celebration (Wonderlab, activities free with museum admission)

Nothing look good to you?

Check out the ongoing exhibits featured in the sidebar or visit and for the full on- and off-campus scoop.

Have an event to promote?

Email me at, and I can help you spread the e-word to our fellow grad students.

Go have some fun!

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