I am a second year PhD student at a UK university. Halfway through my first year, I voluntarily took over the organisational duties of a monthly, school-wide postgraduate seminar, along with two other students. This seminar is open to all postgraduate students and staff in the school. We are supervised/overseen in this undertaking by the doctoral programme director (DPD), who is my personal PhD supvervisor (and with whom I get on very well). Our organisational duties include organising speakers (two per seminar - one a PhD student, and one a member of staff or external speaker), scheduling the seminar dates/times and arranging food (pizza).
An important aspect of each seminar is our "skills talk" - given by a member of staff or an external speaker. This talk is given on some area of formal skills training, such as health and safety, equality and diversity in the school, writing up of theses, acquiring and using academic grants, etc.
Recently, our organisational "supervisor" - the DPD - recommended a small change to how we organise speakers for the "skills talk" aspect of the seminar. This involved sending an email to the heads of the research groups in the school, asking whether they could organise some small number of staff speakers from their respective research groups to speak at some of the future meet-ups of our seminar. This email was approved by the DPD and then sent out.
This was met with a request from one of the heads of research groups for a meeting with us as organisers. During this meeting, remarks were made which I found alarming. Specifically:
"You, as students, should not be emailing the heads of groups telling us what to do"
"It is not right that students are organising a seminar meet-up of this nature, involving skills training in areas such as health and safety"
"I am very concerned with the nature of your organisational duties"
We organisers have of course fed this back to the DPD, but the reason that the nature of the remarks alarmed me is that they appeared to imply potential consequences for us as organisers, outside of the seminar itself. Is this something which we should be worried about?