Offices and Responsibilities

Here you can find detailed descriptions of the responsibilities bestowed upon your student representatives and peruse general schedule of annual PSA events and duties.

According to the Philosophy Department’s Graduate Student Handbook, “The PSA was constituted in order to foster the social, academic, and professional growth of graduate and undergraduate students in the field of philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. …[T]he PSA works to promote a greater sense of community for the ever-changing stream of scholars pursuing an education in philosophy in Hawai’i.”  It is the primary responsibility of the PSA Officers to ensure that this happens.  To this end, the Officers are responsible for organizing a potluck at the beginning of the fall semester which helps the new students and the returning students get to know each other and the faculty a bit better.  They also organize potlucks at the end of each semester to reflect upon and to celebrate the recent accomplishments of students in the Department.  PSA Officers also act as liaisons between the students and the faculty.

PSA Officers are expected to attend all – or at least a significant majority of – Department Meetings, PSA Meetings, PSA Officer Meetings, and PSA-sponsored events (such as the potlucks).  Department Meetings are held monthly during the academic year in the Conference Room on Fridays at 2:30 pm.  The particular dates are determined in the first month of each semester by the faculty.  By attending Department Meetings the Officers are able to contribute the students’ voice to conversations regarding issues that are liable to impact them.  The Officers are also able to communicate departmental developments to the rest of the students and solicit input to be shared with faculty.

PSA Meetings and PSA Officer Meetings are held as the Officers see fit.  It has proven effective to utilize the graduate student listserv in lieu of formal meetings, but formal meetings still serve a purpose at times.  The time and location of the meeting is to be determined by the Officers.

The Officers are invited to the New-Student Welcome Dinner at the beginning of each fall semester.  This is hosted by the Department Chair.

The Officers are also required to organize elections for the next officers each year.  Due to the overlapping responsibilities of the Vice President of the PSA with the GSO, the PSA elections must be completed before the first full week of April so that the new GSO Representative for the Department can take office.  Traditionally, there is one week for nominations and one week for voting.  Results are announced via email at the end of business on Friday of the voting week.

The PSA Officers are responsible for the Student Lounge and the Research Lab (SAK C-306). This involves maintaining the functionality of the space as well as an environment conducive to academic life and work.

Following is a list of specific responsibilities, according to position.


The President is the main person the faculty will recognize as the representative of the students.  As a result, the president must be particularly willing to communicate with the faculty regarding students’ interests and concerns, and with students regarding departmental developments.  The faculty – particularly the Department Chair and the Graduate Chair – will regularly solicit feedback from the students via the PSA President.

Specific presidential responsibilities:

  1. Call and chair PSA Meetings and Officer Meetings when necessary.
  2. Ensure that the other Officers are fulfilling their duties, and aid them in fulfillment of those duties.
  3. Ensure that all PSA members who defend their dissertations receive a lei immediately after the defense.
  4. Ensure that the department secretaries get leis and cards on Administrative Professionals’ Day (observed in April).  Cards are to be signed by as many philosophy students as possible.
  5. Empty the recycling bins in the D-Wing photocopy room at Renee’s prompting (usually 2-3 times per semester).
  6. Get congratulations/condolences cards for PSA members who have significant occurrences in their lives.
  7. Revise the present document as necessary given the ever-changing environment of the department.

Vice President

The VP has, in addition to the general responsibilities outlined above, three major tasks:

  1. Assist the President.
  2. Maintain a working awareness of financial opportunities for graduate students in philosophy.  This includes having a clear understanding of current funding opportunities that are available both within the department and through external sources, organizing this information and making it available to graduate students, and actively seeking additional sources of funding.
  3. Serve as Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Representative for the Department of Philosophy.  The GSO Representative must attend GSO meetings (held once a month, on a weekday evening, usually lasting around 2 hours).  It is imperative that the GSO Representative attend all of these meetings for two reasons:  First, it is at these meetings that graduate student applications for travel and research grants are reviewed.  The allocation of funds depends greatly on which departments are represented.  Especially in the last few years, applications for funding by philosophy students have been very successful.  This is a direct result of our regular attendance and participation in these meetings.  Second, these meetings are our most direct and consistent link to other graduate departments here at UH and the policies and issues that impact us all. In addition to attending these meetings, the GSO Representative must actively encourage philosophy graduate students to apply for GSO grants and be available to assist students in the application process.  If the GSO Representative cannot attend a GSO meeting for whatever reason, or if the GSO Representative has a grant application under review, it is the GSO Representative’s responsibility to ensure that a competent replacement attends the meeting.


  1. Record as much information as possible at every PSA and Department meeting.  The information should be distributed to the Officers for certification, then posted to the blog section entitled “News and Events.”
  2. Create and post flyers throughout Sakamaki Hall to announce PSA Meetings, PSA potlucks, and other PSA-sponsored events.
  3. Create ballot-slips for PSA Officer nominations and elections.
  4. Update and maintain the graduate student listserv.  This includes adding new students each fall.  This rarely includes removing students from the listserv since oftentimes our alumni wish to communicate with the current student body. To access and edit the listserv, click here and login with the PSA email address and password.
  5. Maintain the PSA blog with updates and revisions as frequently as possible.
  6. The Secretary must also assist the Uehiro Graduate Student Philosophy Conference Coordinator with any tasks consonant with secretarial duties to the PSA, such as composing Calls for Papers, designing posters, and facilitating communication with the graduate student body and the UH campus community.

Other than these responsibilities, anything that requires a keyboard or a pen and paper can reasonably be assigned to the Secretary.

Treasurer & (NEW) Alumni Coordinator

The Treasurer has, in addition to the general responsibilities outlined above, three major tasks:

  1. Maintain the financial records for the PSA. This includes accounting for money earned from locker rentals, snack and book sales, donations, etc. as well as accounting for expenses for Department potluck diners/parties.
  2. Maintain stock of snacks and soda in the Department lounge for purchase by students. In the past the Treasurer has organized rides to Costco, etc. to purchase snacks and soda. The PSA reimburses the purchase of snacks and sodas. The funds are used for Department parties/potlucks.
  3. Run a locker rental drive every semester for the lockers located next to the Department lounge in the C-wing. The Treasurer, in conjunction with the other officers will decide and post rates and terms for the rental agreements, keeping in mind that some students may have arranged for long-term rentals and are in the middle of their agreement. The funds from the locker rentals are used for Department parties/potlucks.
  4. Maintain the alumni listserv, draft the annual department newsletter, and conduct fundraising activities.

NEW! Undergraduate Outreach Committee

This elected assemblage of three graduate students:

  1. Organizes events to further the inclusion of undergraduate Philosophy majors in the community. This includes a welcoming gathering and mid-semester party.
  2. Coordinates the Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. This conference is held in alternating years at the campus of UHM, HPU, and KCC.
  3. Are available for Undergraduate Mentoring.
  4. Post event fliers, CFPs, and other relevant information on the Undergraduate Bulletin Board.

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