29 April 2002
Submitted by eve on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 2:04pm. Beautiful
"It's the perfect manner of exploitation labor. Make the grad student apply for the grant to pay for the work, have the grad student do the work all summer, and if the grant goes through, the grad student gets paid. Otherwise, it's his own fault for writing a bad grant proposal, but he doesn't find that out until after he's worked all summer. The university is so totally screwing me."
--A guy in Yali's cafe
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Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 07/16/2002 - 2:55pm.
Archived comment by faisal:
Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 05/10/2002 - 7:34pm.
Archived comment by Saint:
Yikes, I'd sue too, if cost-of-living was totally ignored. Between that and the 20+ hour shifts interns get handed, it's no wonder good docs are hard to find.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Thu, 05/09/2002 - 2:06pm.
Archived comment by Arlene:
I hear on the grapevine that interns (as in, not quite doctors) are suing whatever organization assigns which interns go where as antitrust. All interns get paid the same, no matter where, no matter what field. So despite the fact that cost of living in NYC is twice as much as in Fargo (to pull numbers out of a hat that may not bear semblance to reality), the intern gets paid the same. At least, that's how I understand it. Because hosptitals talk to each other & set how much interns are going to be paid. Anyone have more info on this? I looked & all I found was articles about doctors unionizing to fight HMO's.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 05/04/2002 - 10:53pm.
Archived comment by anson2:
Well I know what department that guy wasn't in at Berkeley, the Chem. dept. Believe it or not they actually pay their grad. students all the same (or did back in the 80's at least), whether or not there's a grant or not. However if your Research Director sucks at getting grants then you have to teach more than the required 4 semesters but you still do get paid.

Having said that, Grad students still are highly exploited labor, but at Berkeley, at least in the Chem. dept. they had their 'stuff' together. Because everybody HAD to pay stupid ASUC (Associated Students of Univ. Cal.) dues, you could only get funds BACK from ASUC (pronounced 'A Suck' of course) depending on the number of members of your 'organization'. So, Chem. students being the natural geniuses that they are, set up a Chemistry Grad. Student Organization (GSO) and required everybody to be in it (~300 students in the 80's). Since this was a HUGE 'club' by most student standards, they got a fair amount of money each semester back from ASUC.

What was cool was what the Chem. GSO did with it. They sponsored seminars (I know, I know, but they really are pretty dedicated students) but supplied ...

Free Beer!

(A tradition that's probably gone by the wayside by now, any current Chem. grads want to update this?).

No GSO meetings, no dues, no bovine excrement, just interesting seminars and free beer outside Hildebrand Hall.

You've got to admit, it's one of the better uses for student council dues there is, no?
Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 05/03/2002 - 2:06am.
Archived comment by Julia:
Hey Groovyflowerchild, nice to see other Kiwis about!

The student union at your university sounds pretty similar to the OUSA.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Thu, 05/02/2002 - 6:19pm.
Archived comment by David Warden:
Right now the university at which I am a graduate student/TA is undergoing a unionization battle.

I don't think unions are likley to improve conditions as 451 says they tend to concentrate on increasing their own power. They create conflict without really influencing university behavior.

If I did not like what my department offered I could always go somewhere else and anyone can do the same.

There are a lot of oppertunities as a TA and RA to increase your income, for example, you can work as a contributor to a textbook or earn various department awards. Overall you can do quite well.

The law requires required to be appointed before you can work so you should always be paid for work you do and future grants would only effect you ability to be reappointed in the future. I don't think anyone would work without being paid. If you do a resonable job it is usually not a problem.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Thu, 05/02/2002 - 6:16pm.
Archived comment by Oneiros:
I think there's a big difference between wage slavery and graduate student serfdom - at least if you're a wage slave you do get the wage. On the other hand, being a student is godly and cool and the real world is to be avoided at all costs, so there's a definite tradeoff.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Thu, 05/02/2002 - 12:07pm.
Archived comment by umrguy:
Um, actually, I'm getting paid pretty well as a Grad TA - plus I've got a couple of fellowships, so about half of what I make as a TA is actually "profit", while the rest goes to paying living expenses and fees and whatnot. (Although, probably what I make in the next two semesters is going to go to paying off student loans.)

No unions for grad students here at UM-Rolla.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Thu, 05/02/2002 - 9:49am.
Archived comment by steff:
unfortunately (or fortunately, depending), i saw that whole explanation as completely normal. and, hey, where ARE those two anyway?
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 10:22pm.
Archived comment by Matt:
Along the same lines, Montygirl, "Spelling America with a K, are we?" --The Tick, upon attempting to enter The Superheroes Club, at which Arthur was turned away (relegated to The Sidekicks' Lounge) for being a sidekick. Episode was called "The Tick vs. The Tick" (second time that title was used, the first being against the mucous monster The Tick faced who was in his image), because it featured Barry, whom Ben Edlund refers to as The Dark Tick (as opposed to The Evil Tick).

And to think I sometimes wonder why Ben (of Ben and Mindy fame) referred to me as bizarre...
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 7:40pm.
Archived comment by Troy:
Luckily I've never had to write a grad proposal since our supervising professors do all that paper work. I've been very lucky since I have an amazing supervisor and he's never really had to worry about funding.

I think at the University of Toronto they either unionized or attempted to. There main beef was that Teaching Assistants (TAs) don't get paid enough, since a lot of grad students (especially in the Arts) only get paid for TAing and can't get Research Assistantships (RA).

The only reason I would want to join a graduate student union is to improve the working conditions for the grad students. I'm satisfied with what I get paid since I'm in a faculty where I get an RA and can TA if I want. I'm not making as much money as I could if I was out in industry but that was my choice. And it's nice to know that I will be getting paid before I do the work.

If this doesn't make any sense I apologize. I'm a little sleepy. :)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 4:18pm.
Archived comment by Groovyflowerchild:
Well said. Unions can be awful at times.
At the university I'm at (in NZ), student union membership has only just stopped being *compulsary* :P.
And the executive council of the student union are the most petty, power-hungry, attention-seeking dorks on campus.

That being said, I hope the poor fellow gets his grant.

Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 3:17pm.
Archived comment by fair_n_hite_451:
"Now, I don't mean to get off on a rant here, but..."

I'm not sure I would ever characterize unions moving into a field as good stuff.

Yes, there are historical reasons why unions have been a requirement at a moment in time to combat an injustice. The problem is that they never go away once their usefullness has been served.

The state of labour laws today does more to protect the rights of the individual worker than unions do. Unions today are generally another form of government - bloated, wasteful, and more concerned with keeping those in power in place than in the "struggle for the common man".

And, like government, when trying to keep themselves in power, they make promises to their members not entirely based on the reality of the situation.

Business: "Geez, we're facing competition from overseas, we need to reduce costs by cutting back and trimming headcount"
Union: "Sorry, no can do, we have a piece of contract, so it's not negotiable"
Business: "OK, it's time to renegotiate the contract, since it's up soon anyway."
Union: "We need to protect our members jobs, if you eliminate any positions, we'll go on strike and shut you down."

...and at the same time, people wonder why businesses are moving offshore to where the labour is cheaper.

So unions encourage the government to slap restrictive trade tariffs on imported goods made with off shore labour.

... and at the same time continue to push for higher and higher wages hikes since their members can't afford the cost of goods since those prices are being artifically propped up by import taxes or higher local wages.

I mean, when I was in high school (late 70's), grocery stock boys at Safeway were making $17.50 an hour! And only because they were unionized. Ridiculous.

Fix the process that leads to the abuse of the grad students, not bring in a union to create an adversarial relationship between the employer and the employee.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 2:46pm.
Archived comment by Montygirl:
I don't know - I think this is a great idea: I'm going to set up my own grant fund. Then I'm going to hire some grad student to do my job. Then, when he submits his paperwork, I'll conjure some irrational reason not to pay! Woohoo! I'll never have to work again!

It could happen.

Kramerica, anyone?
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 1:50pm.
Archived comment by Genevieve:
Grad students at NYU have formed a union
with UAW, the United Auto Workers. The
administration was very against it, but the
NLRB ruled in GSOC's (Graduate Student
Organizing Committee's) favor and now they
are bargaining. This is not the first grad
student union ever- most public universities
have them, ie Cal and CUNY, but it is the first
at a private institution of higher learning and
thus noteworthy.

It has inspired not only other private university
grad students to unionize, but also the
adjuncts at NYU to form a union, and a
unionizing trend among NYC nannies. Good
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 9:57am.
Archived comment by Saint:
If grad students all refused to do the work until they received a response on the grant proposal, maybe grants would go through the system a little faster. Probably wishful thinking, though.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 9:30am.
Archived comment by Arlene:
I know that the U here has a grad student org & representation in the student gov. I don't know if gone farther than that or not.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 9:26am.
Archived comment by Julie:
Yeah, I remember reading that the grad students unionized somewhere, but I couldn't remember the school. The university tried to stop them, but couldn't. Now grad students at other schools are getting ideas . . . it could mean the end of academia as we know it! :-)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 9:08am.
Archived comment by Mark:
Man do I know what this guy is going through or WHAT! Lucky for me I just started grad school, but that quote is so amazingly true that I think I might put it on a t-shirt and sell it at a Grad Student's Association meeting.......I'd be one rich man.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 8:59am.
Archived comment by Dawson:
I seem to remember reading recently that in NYC some of the grad students had actually unionized (or voted to unionize,) to prevent this kind of slave labor screwing-over by the administration.

Or am I remembering that wrong?
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 8:59am.
Archived comment by ananya23:
I've been writing my master's thesis for about a year now and that quote pretty much sums up the entire experience.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 8:27am.
Archived comment by Troy:
Trust me. Grad students get screwed over just as much as people in the "real world". The types of screwing is different though. As well the people in the "real world" get screwed for a wage while us grad students get screwed for little if no money.

And I think the guy in the quote has the right to complain. Wouldn't you complain if someone said "Why don't you work for 4 months and then at the end of the four months we might pay you your wages but this all relies on something you did four months ago?" You'd be pretty pissed too.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 4:50am.
Archived comment by Mark:
And thus is illustrated one of the worst shortcomings of the North American education system.

I may be the way of academia; it's also the way of the world.

Quit complaining and start coping. Or take drugs.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 05/01/2002 - 1:17am.
Archived comment by Marla:
It is the way of academia � or some of it at least. In every department there is always one high flyer who manages to screw over their students with this scam and it's appalling! I left a similar situation (where I got paid but at the rate of about 5c an hour) when I was told that my social life and involvement with the student paper was impinging far too much on my work with this academic and that I should give them up.

That being said, most academics are quite lovely and I hope to join their ranks one day!
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 6:36pm.
Archived comment by Bobby:
No, but I was surprised by the "taken aback" in
your question.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 4:50pm.
Archived comment by Forever Innocent:
Was anyone else a little taken aback by the "so totally" at the end of this guy's rant? It made me think of blond cheerleaders, and I guess it just amused me that it was what he decided to say right then.

But then again he seems to have been getting somewhat worked up at that point (which is so totally understandable given his situation)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 4:25pm.
Archived comment by nessa:
"#1: Who do you have a crush on?
If the answer to #1 is yes go to #2. If the answer is no skip to #3."
- i recieved this in my e-mail box today... what does this say about the condition of our youths intelligance??? oy vey- i'm sorry to say that i'm one of them...
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 4:19pm.
Archived comment by Laura:
That's so true! I have, in the last month, worked on 6 different, very timely, proposals for clients and only 1 of them hired us. I thought "All that work I did was for nothing". But that's wrong because I learned so much in the process.
The only way you will be able to gain experience and know what you need to do in the future so that you'll do better is to keep trying, so you can improve your chances of being successful.
I don't think that one single person has ever tried something and not failed once in their life.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 3:30pm.
Archived comment by Pet Rock Star:
Welcome to the machine, baby. It's what they call how things work in the real world, Mr. Grad Student.

And I'm not talking about the TV show.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 3:23pm.
Archived comment by dave:
Sounds like a pretty typical lesson in life to me. You get out of university and your boss does exactly the same thing to you.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 3:15pm.
Archived comment by Jade:
Sounds like a pretty shitty deal for the grad student.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 04/30/2002 - 2:11pm.
Archived comment by Genevieve:
I totally feel this poor man's pain. Write the
essay, Genevieve! Do the research,
Genevieve! Help your fellow students,
Genevieve! [small print] and the University
gets all the credit. Unless you suck, and then
it's your own fault.
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