UC grad students strike

November 16, 2022 at 9:16 am | | everyday science, grad life

The grad students are striking for better wages and benefits. As David Booth points out, in addition to supporting grad students better, we need to ask for better support from the state and from NIH. Budgets have remained flat or decreased.

If I were running UC, this is what else I would propose:

  • Pay grad students more.
  • Build more subsidized student housing and childcare.
  • Grad students are students. They are learning both research science as well as other skills useful in academics and industry. Increase programs within departments that educate grad students on topics like good presentation skills, how to write a grant, etc.
  • Also bolster programs that help students navigate research during their first few years. Maybe stronger interactions with their committee or having a second advisor. Some students just fall through the cracks of flounder during their first few years.
  • Limit the time it takes to get a PhD (6 years max?). Allow exceptions for extenuating circumstances, but those should be rare. There are too many delays in getting young researchers toward their career.
  • Require at least one published paper before awarding a PhD. Also require a defense. If you can’t achieve these, leave with a masters. PIs whose students fail to earn a PhD within the time limit should be put on probation and not be able to take on new grad students until things are fixed.
  • Eliminate or shorten the time for rotations. It’s a huge time sink during their first year. Just join a lab and start learning. But make it easy to change labs if necessary.
  • Weed out toxic PIs. The main justification for rotations is to avoid the bad labs. Put profs on probation if they get complaints. Give them a chance to redeem themselves, but protect students in the meantime.
  • Make sure you don’t do crappy things like pretending grad students aren’t eligible for worker’s comp.

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