Dear Graduate Student: An Exchange

June 8, 2009

Dear Graduate Student,

Stop pretending. You aren’t interested in helping me. You didn’t make a lesson plan for today’s discussion section. You don’t care about this subject. And the stain on your shirt from “today’s” lunch that you jokingly apologize about—was there last week, too.

Simply, I’m not sure I can respect you. For one, your entire community seems to be divided into two equally unappealing camps:


1) People with knowledge, ambition, and sensitivity—who are painfully awkward and have physical deformities that will sabotage the attention of a lecture hall for eternity (female mustache, dental work that deserves its own multi-disciplinary study, bookshelf-sized booty);

2) The funny, outgoing, individuals who lack a working knowledge of anything, but still try and speak with authority in front of sort-of-impressionable students. In some alternate universe, I’d call you “cool” or facebook friend you. Even if we shared a sizable wall-to-wall, it couldn’t justify taking your suggestions to heart.

But its what your camps share that’s the most upsetting. As academia’s freshest faces, you should be able to connect with us, or at least impart some kind of understanding and optimism about our experiences. Instead, you seem no more human than our god-complex professors and cracked-out advisors.

Why? Is it so liberating being out of our shoes that you want to impose the same kind of mindless restrictions and requirements on our learning? Or is academia really about hoop jumping, groveling, and eating shit until you are published/tenured/die? Let me know.


Undergrads, write to your graduate students here.

Grad students, write to your teacher’s pets here.

All venting is anonymous.

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3 Responses to “ Dear Graduate Student: An Exchange ”

  1. mr.killstudent on June 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    grad students are the middle management of academia, with too many years and dollars invested in their career path – but not enough job security – to do anything risky.

  2. nonpretentious on June 19, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Plus, are they there because they want to teach others or become an expert themselves?

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Will May on September 29, 2009 at 9:45 am

    All of you undergrads and graduate students sniping at each other over the inadequacies of each others’ performances are missing the point entirely. We have the same enemy in common–the entrenched academic elite. A lot of professorial smoke-and-mirrors and baiting-and-switching has done the trick on most students, undergraduate and graduate alike. Yet we as students have more power than we imagine. We as students have more power than our professors imagine. Without students, they would have no function. They would be reduced to earning their keep on the lecture circuit, and no doubt many of the ones who had nothing original to say—and we can safely assume that there are a few within the academic circles of America who fit that bill—would find themselves in need of a reality check, as well as a real job. it is time we got rid of tenure. It is time we gave pink slips to the dead weight that, by the grace of an archaic and outmoded policy, has dragged our colleges and universities into an educational sinkhole. It is time we dismantled the tenure track and demanded from our professoriate the same things our professoriate demands from us: creativity, drive, intellectual and academic excellence, and a fervent rejection of the stagnation of any of these rational ideals.

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