I tried to ignore GESO. I really did. Aren’t there more pressing issues that should piss me off and incite pissed-off columns?ÊI don’t know, like the impending nuclear holocaust?ÊWell, sure, but I can ignore those concerns like the Dictionary.com “Word of the Day” e-mails that accumulate in my Inbox every morning.ÊBut it’s kind of hard to ignore GESO, for, umm, complicated philosophical reasons.
ÊYou see, Koffee Too? is the only spot in the world where I actually absorb my philosophy reading.ÊI’m not sure why, but it may have something to do with those dudes with the stretchy earlobe contraptions. Ê
But lately, the dudes with the earrings have let me down, and strange noises have broken through my impenetrable sphere of concentration.Ê
It’s always a mob of aging grad school goons — you know, the ones whom you mistake for professors during shopping period — praying on some doe-eyed first-year fresh out of a cozy liberal arts school in a small, snowy town.Ê(Irrelevant side note: she’s usually hot.)
These activists preach of social injustice and wasted academic potential.
“Graduate research generates more revenue for the university than undergrad tuition, but we only benefit from a fraction of it.”
“Yale directs too much work to part-timers, post-docs and junior professors.”
“The physics department won’t be truly supergreat until we hire more professors.”
“It’s impossible for women and minorities to get hired as professors at Yale after completing their degrees.”Ê(Relevant side note: they’re usually white males.)
These concerns are multifarious, but the theme is clear. GESO rabble-rousers are feeling unappreciated and want to empower themselves.
Yale prides itself on catering foremost to undergrads, and this puts a bunch in the diaper-undergarments of some of the fogies that grade our tests and papers.
Perhaps some of these concerns might be valid, but I’m going to ignore them, because GESO does exactly that. Their methods are dubious, and their motives are murky.ÊAfter hyping up prospective union members with caffeine, the GESO malcontents pressure the naives with self-righteous calls to action based on the aforementioned concerns.ÊBut once promises are made to vote along party lines, talk of social justice and equal opportunity fades away.
All I can hear — while slogging through Kant with a chai tea in hand — are demands for raises and benefits. Ê
I could turn this harangue into a rational exploration of the role of graduate students and what it necessarily entails. But there is no need because the issue is cut and dry, and only 23 undergrads disagree with me:
Graduate students, as their title suggests, are not employees. They are students, just like us.ÊThey come here to learn, do research, make art and futilely search for romance.ÊGrad school is a steppingstone to other places, not a destination in itself.
Extrapolated response of GESO:
“But the employment opportunities after grad school are more limited than ever, and we need greater incentive to keep following this treacherous but rewarding path. More and more grad students are forced out of academia and pushed into the professional world. Our cause, as Yale grad students, is not unique. Our demands embody a national discontent over the structure of the American University System. The administration needs to give us greater consideration in budgeting and policy-making.”
Extrapolated response of the undergraduate and professional school populations, minus 23 revolutionaries:
“You get paid about $15,000 a year, and we pay $30,000-$50,000 a year. You basically want us to give you more of our tuition so you can hang out for a few more years while postponing the inevitable integration into the real world.Ê
“Do you have any incentive to finish grad school quicker and save the university money if you are a stable employee with full benefits — especially since most grad programs have no defined length?Ê
“If you are going to be paid more than professors when forced into the professional world as consultants and VP’s of bio-tech companies, shouldn’t you have to pay for school, like other professional school students?
“So basically, you’re asking for tenure midway through your Masters or PhD’s?
“You want to be considered employees of Yale, so you’ll be treated like workers who actually need benefits because they’re at Yale for the long haul, without a raise in sight.ÊIf anything, you should be considered employees because you sometimes teach classes and lead sections.Ê
“However, not all grad students teach the same amount of classes; some are only required to teach for their first two years, and others can’t teach until their third year. ÊAnd if you strike, aren’t you shirking all Yale responsibilities — including research — not just teaching duties? So what you’re saying is, you’re striking because you’re tired and frumpy, not because of any valid, unified grievance?” Ê
And now back to my own biased ramblimgs:
You aren’t suffering, GESO. You aren’t martyrs. Don’t align yourselves with and impede the progress of more worthwhile causes. If your cause is national, why get tangle up in local politics? And don’t Locals 34 and 35 essentially work for you? Who sends out your polished transcripts? Who cleans your toilets?ÊWho scoops your sloppy soy into buns at the HGS cafeteria?ÊThe undergraduates sympathize with the right people, and they aren’t you.
You aren’t cool, GESO.ÊWe’ve witnessed the height of your luxury and the depths of your sleaze — yes, I’ve been to GPSCY, and I know your faxes. ÊYou all buy expensive drinks wearing your vintage nerd-chic outfits. You dropped some dough on those threads. You also spend too much time and money at overpriced coffee houses.
Do your union comrades buy expensive drinks with you at fancy bars?ÊDo they don sweater vests and play chess with you over coffee? No, because they work all day. What will you do all day while you’re striking? Go snowboarding?
So GESO, please accept your fate. Grad students are supposed to get shat upon.ÊIt’s a timeless rite of passage of academia, reflective all of young adults’ experience out of college. Most graduating seniors will be unemployed or making under $25,000 without benefits.ÊAnd they won’t even be amassing marketable skills. Professional school students leave Yale with even bigger debts they won’t pay off for a decade or two.ÊYour life is good.ÊEnjoy it while it’s good. ÊAnd stay away from Koffee Too? or we’ll smash your tortoise-shell glasses.
Joel Resnicow is a senior in Pierson College and a former scene editor. He used to be nice and laidback, but GESO wouldn’t let him be. Please direct all inquiry and hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.