Tuesday, January 25, 2005

a slight addendum to phoebe's debate

I was in a Dominick's the other day, shopping at a non-inner-city grocery store, and one of my friends--a former U of C undergrad--had an awkward encounter with the person who led her tour at Pritzker:

"Hi...didn't I just lead you on a tour where I was slamming..."
"You were slamming the undergrads."
"...right. And you..."
"I was an undergrad."

Now, I'm not a shining example of the behavior of undergrads. I chew carrots on the fourth floor of the Reg while plugging away on my book, amidst more serious, dissertation-minded peoples.

But see, here's something to pop the balloon of these pretentious grads who think they're so superior. The fact is, undergrads include all types. Future I-bankers (horrid as they may be), future lawyers, future doctors, future tool in the capitalist cog who simply wanted a good liberal arts education.

But "grad school" people get to exempt from their ranks those who are in the so-called "professional schools." No one thinks of the U of C "grad students" and inludes the B-schoolers in their suits and absurd "meet and greets." I say, if we want to take an obnoxious-meter of grad v. undergrad, we must include those people in those schools as well. In which case, of course, the superficiality quotient of the "grad student" goes up considerably.

And besides, grad students, if you're feeling insecure, just beat up on us. There are two of you for every one of us. You'll never find a better ratio of grad:undergrad for teaming up on us. It's not our fault you're afraid of the sunlight.

So there.


Anonymous said...

I wandered this way from Crescat. I'm finding your debate interesting and based on a different point of view than the one down here at Rice. I know there are some private schools where the campus atmosphere paints undergrads as nuisances in the way of real education and research :cough::Caltech::cough::, but is U of C really one of those? The reason I find it interesting is because I'm in a sort of mirror of your position. The grad students at Rice are about a third of the student body, yet we get refered to as a distraction from the university's mission, painted as a drain on institutional resources (nevermind that no educational institution can function without grad students), and libeled as "creepy grad students" in the school paper (well, the guys anyways). Sufficient numbers of undergrads act as if we don't exist, or feel that we have no right to be there, that the school has an unwelcoming atmosphere sometimes. Basically, it like a spoiled kid unwilling to share ANY toys; is that how it seems up there? The part that really ticks me off is that I have to put up with this even though I know how stupid such an attitude is: at the state school where I did my undergrad, no such divide exists. Maybe being above a certain size insulates a school from such an issue? (Or maybe being screwed by the school administration whenever possible, at all levels, creates an enemy-of-my-enemy attitude?)

Fyi, there's no way the grads are supported by the parents of undergrads. First off, replacing TAs with profs would is so expensive it's simply not possible. Second, academic funding for grad students just doesn't work that way. Even making the caveats that I know less about non-technical fields and ignoring the usual administrators' claims that tuition covers a ridiculously small part of any university's operating cost, the TA you have for that physsci class mentioned in your next post is being paid by his/her advisors grant money, not by the university's money.


Jacob T. Levy said...

By the way: agm is right about the general pattern of grad student financing. The degree to which grad students are funded at all out of general resources varies by field-- in the lab sciences, not only are grad students' tuition and stipends paid by external grants, but those payments get multiplied through the magic of "overhead," so that the doctoral students are larger net fiscal contributors than undergrads are. That's less directly true in the social sciences and humanities-- but it's the tuition-paying MA students rather than the College who put money into the relevant funds. The College is expensive to run, and especially expensive to run with small average class sizes and few classes taught by grad students, compared with peer institutions. It certainly doesn't generate some huge surplus that the graduate divisions can skim off.

Nick said...
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