Thursday, April 20, 2006

working (not too hard) for change

I'm no hard-core political activist. I admire the grad students working on unionization; I go to rallies; I don't myself get out and organize. What I am good at is administration -- I love setting things up. When I was a kid the way I "played" with dolls was to change their clothes and hair, give them names and characters, put them in positions, and then forget about them.

So when I recently started talking to some fellow students about some administrative problems with our program -- namely, that the written guidelines for our progress do not resemble in practice what anyone actually does -- I got psyched to organize. I typed up a position paper with some suggestions for change, and showed it to the graduate chair, all ready for some protracted negotiations.

She said, "Terrific!! Get some other students together and we'll have a meeting and figure out how to implement this!" (She's liberal with the exclamation points, that one.)

The up side is that now my hyper-particular brain will no longer be bothered by the massive discrepancies between guidelines and behavior. Plus, the plan will (hopefully) give students a respite from the truly immense amount of coursework + teaching we've had, particularly in the third year.

The down side? I can no longer claim to be fighting the good fight.

No comments: