Not that I'm taking this line, necessarily, but a friend of mine in a very similar position -- literally, she was two places above me on that list of students to fund -- is of the opinion that this situation represents a colossal failure on the department's part, at the level of planning. As she views it, they never should have instituted that triage system I discussed in my last post, and thus de-privileged some of the more productive students (I know, that's a pretty relative term) while giving a boost to some colleagues of ours who lean dangerously close to being deadweight. Knowing this friend, I can write off some of her fury as the way she is; she fires up the jeremiad pretty fast whenever her personal circumstances are less than optimal. You know you have an angry feminist scholar on your hands when she begins to grumble about other people's reproductive choices as a burden she shouldn't have to bear. I mean, jeez, I get what she's saying, but as I've said before, I might have done exactly the same had I had administrative responsibility to sort this out.
But her larger anger is reserved for the staff and chair, who, as she claims, have always been kind of half-assed about doing their jobs thoroughly. She's especially steamed at the staffer in charge of grad student placement in available TA positions, and here I have to cede my colleague the point. The coordinator, although a very nice person, has always been incompetent about confidentiality matters: as far as I can tell, she's too lazy to hide her email recipient lists when she ought to, and therefore a few of us knew that we -- all of us, by name -- were in this particularly unsavory position at the bottom of the list. So that clues me in that she's verifiably doing part of her job wrong. (I know of other confidentiality breaches, too, because colleagues have dished to me in private.) As my friend argues, part of the coordinator's formal duties ought to be searching for every available position in every department in the university, whenever our own department comes up short. And lord knows, I can see her point, especially at the moment! But I wonder if we could really hold the coordinator to this -- which I suppose in this context would mean going to the chair to lodge a complaint against the coordinator for slacking at her job by leaving us in the lurch. Honestly, would this stick? As much as I would like to believe that the coordinator is supposed to search high and low for TAships outside her own department as an advocate for her grad students, it doesn't quite sound reasonable to expect this. Especially when all of Dear Old University's administrative employees recently had to swallow pay freezes and back-end cuts to their health care benefits packages. My gut instinct is that asking a staffer who herself feels dicked over by DOU to exert herself strenuously to find money for people who are
- not, in any technical sense, her hierarchical superiors on the job,
- not even potentially hierarchical superiors in the way that faculty are,
- in her eyes, coddled and privileged in comparison to the admittedly shit-upon administrative staff, and
- despite items (1), (2) and (3), often high-handed and peremptory with her as though (1) and (2) were true and (3) were false