Monday, January 4, 2010

Bottom of the heap

I am now the only graduate student in my entire, huge department who has no funding yet for Spring 2010.  I feel the love, guys.

I certainly can't say this out loud around there, because the last thing I want to do is validate any system that fucks me over, but I might have made exactly the same decisions as the department did for funding its grad students.  As I hear it from the staff, who are more inclined to dish than the faculty leadership, when the funding crunch hit last year, they decided to deal with it by arranging a triage system, i.e. who is most likely to die of starvation if we don't fund them?  The practical effect of this idea was that the first people to get TAship offers were the people with families to support, and foreign nationals who are forbidden from taking any kind of ordinary job in the US and often need departmental support to validate their residency status.  (I believe that the family people came first, followed by the foreign nationals, but I'm not sure.)  Then they worked their way down the list, beginning with students still within the time period of their guaranteed funding years the department promised them upon admission, and ending with more advanced students whose guaranteed years had elapsed.  And, as it appears, mine is the very last name on the list that they composed.  Right at the bottom of the heap: Prof. Koshary.

Like I said, this system makes a certain amount of sense.  I get it.  Somehow, though, that doesn't really make me feel any better about being identified as the weakest link. 

I guess that, since DOU is a public university, I should be thrilled that things aren't worse.  (The low point of comparison is, of course, the University of California system, which is so fragile and unstable right now that we look rock-solid next to them.)  I was one of three students still unfunded when the department office closed for the holidays, and now that they've re-opened, the other two have jobs for the semester.  I even understand why I rated below those other two: one came back from research a semester after I did, so she needs at least a modicum of support to get her dissertation prepared to defend it in May, and the other guy is a foreign national.  He's also a dreadful pain in the ass to administration, since he's a wannabe revolutionary permanently on the look-out for causes to champion against the way the department and university are run, and they probably figured that he'd be more irritating than I to deal with, if he were the last one to hear about funding.  (They're probably right.)

I've put out calls to all the other departments at DOU for whom I would make a reasonable TA; only one of them hasn't already told me no.  Meanwhile, I have nothing else to cling to but the hope that, if I'm the only one left now, something will materialize in the next few weeks and come my way.  Wish me luck.


  1. I just found your blog through Reassigned Time and I can totally relate to your position.

    I am in a very large graduate program and have no idea how many funded vs. unfunded students there are, but I feel like the only unfunded one. The program has only so much money to go around and they are using the TAships as recruiting devices, so I am pretty much screwed as I am already a student. This will be my third time applying for a TAship. Not only would the money and funding be soooo nice, but I would feel so much more involved with the program and profession if I could get this "in." We'll see.

    I wish you luck!

  2. Thanks, Adjunct, and good luck to you too!

    The use of TAships as a recruiting device, and its resulting complications for late-stage funding, merits a blog post of its own. Of course, almost anyone who will ever read this blog probably has seen this beast up close already.