The Philosophy Department makes an effort to involve its own graduate students in the running and shaping of the Department and its Ph.D. program. At any time, there are always two elected graduate student representatives who are charged with the task of keeping channels of communication open and flowing in both directions between the departmental faculty and graduate student body. Among other things, they are responsible, at a number of junctures in the academic year, for polling their cohort on a variety of matters petaining to the administration of the graduate program and for keeping the faculty fully up to date on the graduate students' interests and concerns with regard to these matters.
In the Fall Quarter of each year, the graduate students also elect additional representatives in connection with the hiring process. For each search the Department conducts in a given year in a given area of Philosophy, one addtional graduate student representative is elected. That student serves as a member of that search committee, along with several faculty members, and, along with those faculty, reads the dossiers, participates in faculty-level hiring discussions for that area, attends the relevant portions of faculty meetings, and is invited to take part in the interviews of candidates at the APA. That student representative is also responsible for polling his cohort at each stage in the hiring process (before and after the job interviews at the APA, and before and after the campus visits of the finalists for the job) and for keeping the faculty abreast of the graduate students assessments and preferences with regard to the various job candidates. These assessments and preferences are taken into account at each stage of the faculty's hiring deliberations. Needless to say, serving as a graduate student representative to a hiring committee is excellent preparation for going on the academic philosophy job market oneself.
In the Winter Quarter of each year, the graduate students are polled through their representatives regarding their preferences for course offerings in the coming academic year. Every effort is made by the Department to offer any course for which the graduate students have expressed a strong preference -- either by having one of our own faculty teach the course or by inviting an appropriately qualified visiting faculty member to come to Chicago for a quarter in order to teach the course in question as a part of the Department's official graduate-level course offerings.
Towards the end of the Spring Quarter of each year, there is an annual meeting of the entire graduate-student and faculty membership of the Department. The primary purpose of that meeting is to allow graduate students to voice their concerns and desires pertaining to any aspect of the running of the Ph.D. program that they might wish to make known to the faculty.