Wheras The Omnibrain give the a State Legislature a piece of his mind

i-75fa6f7cebb4145668724f37f5a52b36-steve_icon_medium.jpgA State Legislature proclaimed an amazing thing recently which has just so made my day! They took time out of their busy schedule of shutting down state parks and getting in a fiduciary pissing match to proclaim that this week is grad student week or some such garbage. Here's the official proclamation:

WHEREAS, Graduate Schools play an important role in enhancing the nation's economic competitiveness and innovation; and

WHEREAS, the National Science Foundation cites State universities for attracting $5.4 billion in federally sponsored grants and contracts, over the past five years; and

WHEREAS, State Graduate Schools play a vital role in developing the best and brightest domestic and globally recruited talent, evidenced by the fact that 46% of the State legislature have received an advanced degree from an State university, and 48% of certified elementary and secondary school teachers in State have earned graduate degrees; and

WHEREAS, National laboratories in State are dependent on graduate students and faculty from State graduate schools; and

WHERAS, Graduate Education is inextricably linked to the global economy, evidenced by State's #1 ranking in the Somewhere in the US as a destination for foreign investment, State's ability to attracted over 5,800 foreign businesses that employ more than 335,000 State citizens, and State Graduate Schools' ability to attract over 25,600 international students; and

WHERAS, the State Association of Graduate Schools (IAGS), which represents private and public institutions statewide: 1) provides a forum for communication and develop a spirit of cooperation among graduate schools, graduate colleges, and graduate divisions of the colleges and universities of the State of State; 2) plans and implements various mechanisms, consortia, and resource sharing to the benefit and best interests of graduate education, and the people of the State of State; 3) serves in an advisory capacity, if so requested, to any State of State agency or commission on matters relating to graduate education; and 4) aims to improve graduate education in the State of State;

THEREFORE, I, Big Man, Governor of the State of State, do hereby proclaim October 20-24, 2008 as GRADUATE EDUCATION WEEK in Illinois and urge all citizens to recognize Graduate Deans and the State Association of Graduate Schools for all that they do to promote graduate education and contribute to the public good.

Awesome! They finally realize that we're important. But wait... I can't seem to find the section in here where they treat us like real employees and offer us real health insurance and retirement benefits. Hmm... maybe if I look harder I can find that part that says something about only being paid for 20 hours a week when I'm working more than 60 teaching hundreds of students and doing research and not even really taking classes that 'costs' the university money. Maybe there's a little bit in there somewhere about giving us more money or benefits?

Wait... there's not?! that's odd. Why did they draft this thing then?

Can someone explain to me what the purpose of a 'proclamation' is?

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Dude, you are a Psych grad student--surely you must be familiar with "Beyond Freedom and Dignity". Recall, Skinner argues that our culture uses dignity as a social reinforcer for doing things when there are no real, tangible reinforcers for that behavior. We recognize your struggle and achievement, and would not want to rob you of the dignity your poverty and overwork provide you. Hell, if we made Grad School easy and rewarding, then everyone would want to do it! And where would we be then?

Not a behaviorist? You probably do recall the classic 1959 Festinger & Carlsmith paper, "Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance". We want you to enjoy your job, and not have any illusions that you are doing it for the money; the less we can get away with paying you and have you still show up, the more you will come to love your job!

Proclamations are considerably cheaper than benefits or salary, but they let your University claim they are showing you the appreciation you deserve. A bit like prayer, actually...

Why do they do so many experiments on grad students? because rats are expensive, and besides, there are some things a rat won't do.

Oh, and a "proclamation" is a legislative document designed to give the appearance of concern without commitment.

Allow me to introduce you to the Policy Policy: It doesn't matter what you actually do, so long as you have the right policy. A policy is a substitute for right action (e.g., schools that have a no bullying policy need not do anything about bullying, because "we have a policy against it".

Steve @ #2--

You *are* still showing up, teaching classes, writing, running experiments, jumping through all the grad student hoops, no? They gave you a proclamation because they *can*, because you (and the vast majority of those who share your position or who have shared your position over the decades, including myself) are not (yet) leaving in sufficient quantities to change the economics of the situation. You *say* that a proclamation doesn't do it for you, but they can weigh your words as cheaply as their own--the saying goes "I'm listening to your words, but I'm watching your feet", and your feet keep taking you to the front of the classroom without them paying you anything more than a lot of pretty words.

There are places where Grad Students are organizing in Labor unions. It remains to be seen what effect that will have.

As the political scientist of the family (the sociologist-artist commented on the previous blog post), I can certainly explain the purpose of the proclamation. It allows our sainted lawmakers to take credit for the successful passage of some form of legislation. We pay them incredibly inflated salaries, they are on hiatus more often than not, and, even when they are in-session, they rarely come to any kind of consensus. So if they can all agree to honor the state's hard-working graduate students, then they can pat themselves on the back, vote for another pay raise, and head home for the next recess.

By Lowcountry Fos… (not verified) on 24 Oct 2008 #permalink

So if they can all agree to honor the state's hard-working graduate students, then they can pat themselves on the back, vote for another pay raise, and head home for the next recess.

We pay them incredibly inflated salaries, they are on hiatus more often than not, and, even when they are in-session, they rarely come to any kind of consensus.

I'm sending a note to Blago asking him to provide passes for free public transit to all Illinois graduate students--just like Illinois seniors. How does that sound? Oh, wait, I see you're at Champaign, not UIC. Nevermind.

sending a note to Blago asking him to provide passes for free public transit to all Illinois graduate students--just like Illinois seniors. How does that sound? Oh

sending a note to Blago asking him to provide passes for free public transit to all Illinois graduate students--just like Illinois seniors. How does that sound? Oh