Whereas this course had, in recent years, been taught with 47 hours of TA support, the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering refused in 2012 to budget any hours for TA support. Instead, AI was allocated only 13 hours of "grader" time. This prompted me to write the following email, to no avail.

From: Jeremy Cooperstock
Sent: November-17-12 11:09 AM
To: Fabrice Labeau, Prof.; Andrew Kirk, Prof.
Subject: one more attempt

Dear Fabrice and Andy,

I understand that the university is claiming the need to cut down on TA budgets given our dire financial situation. As I noted during the Faculty Procurement Meeting on November 5, something seems terribly amiss when we are part of a faculty employing well over a dozen "financial administrators" but lack enough money to pay for ample teaching assistant resources in order to deliver quality education to our students. Is this what university priorities at McGill have come to?

When I read about the 43 McGill administrators who earned salaries in excess of $200,000 in 2010, the $321,000 severance package for Ann Dowsett Johnston, or McGill's loan of $500,000 at questionable rates of interest to an individual who has apparently not repaid the majority, I am repeatedly struck by mounting evidence that our senior administration has abdicated its responsibilities for prioritizing research and education in its management of the university.

Although the amount pales in comparison to the excess and waste noted above, I might also point out that McGill deliberately threw away well over $20,000 plus legal fees in a misguided effort to punish me for my criticism of the university's failures to maintain academic integrity. How many TA hours could have been paid for with these funds alone?

I am well aware that you both hold interim titles for now, but responsibility at the departmental and faculty level nevertheless rests with you. I am therefore attempting, by appeal to your respective offices, to request that you take corrective action immediately. For my own courses, ECSE 424 and ECSE 526, I have seen my TA quota drop from 130 and 47 hours (from previous years) to 16 and 13 hours, respectively.1 My submission on October 10 of the attached revision request forms to the ECE TA allocations committee did nothing to improve the situation -- in fact, it appears that subsequent to my submission, the allocation for my course on Artificial Intelligence actually dropped by several hours.

This situation is shameful, inexcusable, and unjustifiable. I hope you agree.

- Jeremy

1 I later learned that the hours allocated for both courses were, in fact, designated as "grader" hours as opposed to the more useful TA hours.

The response I received from the interim chair indicated simply that the department's TA allocation policy was "motivated by our budget situation". Interestingly, other departments and faculties at McGill have opted to cut expenses from other areas of their budget and retain a priority on the quality of education they deliver.