Firing line for June 30, 2014


The thing that kills me is how patronizing [Dean Esther Raizen’s response to fears about funding for liberal arts graduate students] is. It’s no secret to most of us that universities are corporatizing and becoming these neoliberal degree factories, OK fine. I came in with an offer of five years (ten semesters) of funding from my department. Thanks to external grants and fellowships I’ve only used three semesters’ worth of TAships. Now those other seven semesters that I banked on having during my writing time (and I’m only planning to take two more years to finish) are in jeopardy, and I have so many student loans from my undergrad that I’m facing the choice of dropping out rather than taking on more debt if my “guaranteed funding” is taken away. This [plan not to fund students beyond their sixth year] is a great way to actually cost COLA more money, as it could potentially discourage people from applying for outside money if they know that their UT funding will just magically go away after 6 years regardless of whether they’ve used up what they were promised by their department.

Anyway, Dr. Raizen, please don’t tell me that I’m somehow being unnecessarily anxious about these changes, which, frankly, *were* done in a sneaky and underhanded way. (Even the [Graduate Student Assembly] reps didn’t know about them until after classes ended this semester!) “Repeating and propagating rumor” definitely doesn’t serve the grad students, and it’s fundamentally due to COLA’s obfuscation that we’re in this position. It’s definitely not because grad students need to just keep our heads in our books and not worry about things like how we’re going to pay rent, or eat.

One last thing. The only thing you actually propose by way of a solution is a “student task force on TA/AI duties”? Gimme a break.

– Online commenter “6th year PhD student...screwed” in response to “COLA taking steps to increase graduate student funding,” a guest column by Esther Raizen, Liberal Arts associate dean for research and graduate studies