Dongliang Sheng (he/him) is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Management (specializing in information systems) at McGill. He also works as a Teaching Assistant
How long have you been working as a TA at McGill?
I have been a TA since the 2020 Winter semester.
What is your favorite part of that work?
It never stops to amaze me that students can still demonstrate their original and creative understanding of similar materials in the same course that I have TA-ed multiple times, which both challenges and motivates me as a TA. It is rewarding to observe the progress students can make from the start of the semester to the end.
What is your academic research about?
My current research focuses on how influencers utilize social media platforms to implement marketing strategies and even create societal changes.
What do you like doing for fun?
I love baking! It helps me unwind and live in the present. Baking can also be incredibly
satisfying and creative.
Favorite place in Montreal?
The Plateau neighborhood is my favorite in Montreal, and I actually cannot imagine
myself living anywhere else in the city. It has endless art and culture. I appreciate the
variety of cafés, restaurants, parks, and activities that it can offer.
How long have you been AGSEM delegate? What have been your tasks as a delegate so far?
I have been an AGSEM TA delegate since the fall of 2022, nearly a year. The primary responsibility is to verify each semester's list of TA appointments and ensure that the hiring process adheres to the Collective Agreement. I spoke with as many TAs in my department as I could to collect and document their TAship-related issues. Their feedback is essential whenever I am able to speak with the committee or HR. In addition, I introduced AGSEM and my role as an AGSEM delegate at the welcome event for new PhD students in my faculty.
What has been the biggest challenge in your work as a TA so far?
Completing all TA duties within the contractually stipulated number of hours can be
difficult for every TA. The procedure of requesting additional TA hours is quite inefficient
from a bureaucratic perspective.
What should be improved about the current TA Collective Agreement between AGSEM and McGill?
Considering the exorbitant expense of living, a raise in pay would benefit every TA. In
addition, for some courses, McGill prefers to hire graders and tutors rather than TAs
because graders and tutors are not unionized yet and their pay rate is relatively lower.
This creates a problem for a lot of PhD students who have TA responsibilities as part of
their funding package. They cannot fulfill the requirements because there are not
enough TA positions available. Perhaps a clause in the Collective Agreement could
resolve this issue.
Why do you think unionizing and having a strong labour union is important for Teaching Assistants, Invigilators, and other groups of employees at McGill?
As McGill employees, we are not requesting special treatment, but merely what we
deserve. We currently live in an era of extreme income inequality. Not only does a robust
labour union provide better wages and working conditions, but it also gives workers a
sense of control over their own work lives. Our power resides in our collective voice.
Well said! Thank you for your union involvement and for participating in the Q&A, Dongliang.
"Get to Know Your Delegate" is a series of blog posts introducing AGSEM Delegates in a Q&A format. Are you an AGSEM Delegate interested in being featured in the series? Email your External Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org