Apocalypse Now. No really, right now.
0 comment Saturday, April 19, 2014 |
The sky is falling around here.The month of January is always one of anxious anticipation. GrAdvisor likes to meet with each of us one-on-one to discuss our goals for the year to come and how well we achieved our goals from the previous years. Sometimes these meetings are really awful ["AA, are you sure you want to be a scientist?" "WTF! Do you think I'd be here putting up with all this crap if I didn't?!?!"]. Sometimes they are really smooth [this year I emailed in advance an extremely detailed itemized list, including timeline for completion of each item..."I have no problem with this."] .I'd say our annual goal setting meeting went really well -- on target to graduate this fall, everything's peachy.But then a few days ago the powers that be dropped the bomb.Our lab is out. of. money...............................Shit.I'm self-funded for the next few months. It will take me (ideally) until the end of the year to finish my dissertation project. GrAdvisor thinks he should be able to cover my stipend/health insurance for a few months after my funding is up...but he isn't really sure. So the pressure is on to hurry up and get out as fast as possible.This is really stressful for several reasons:While mentally I'm feeling ready to move on, I feel like my dissertation is being rushed to a sloppy and incomplete finish. I'm afraid that GrAdvisor will push my committee for a defense date before my project is ready. I would like to successfully defend my thesis and feel satisfied with my project. If I graduate on GrAdvisor's proposed timeline, I will do so along with several other students who entered a year ahead of me. Not inherently a bad thing, but ideally I would have more time to polish the project so as to leave my committee without any doubt as to whether I have earned the PhD when I defend. I'm afraid of failing my defense because I am being forced to finish before it's finished.I will not have the luxury of hanging around in the Grad Lab for a time after my defense. I need to have a post-doc lined up and be out of here immediately after defending. This limits my choices for post-doctoral labs since the start date cannot be flexible. Furthermore, I would like to wait until my first data paper is accepted or at the very least submitted (optimistically 6-8 weeks from submission?) before going on interviews. I'm watching other people navigate the post-doc market and it's getting pretty thin what with hiring freezes and people's grants not being funded. I'd like to be competitive in that market and publications would make me more so.While I appreciate that GrAdvisor is in a really tough spot, and is doing his best to make sure that no one loses their jobs and everyone keeps their health insurance, I am angry that steps were not taken long before now to ensure that we would never be in this situation. I am angry that we had no warning that this was coming.I am angry that the grad school has no contingency plan for helping out in this situation. When I started I signed a contract guaranteeing me a stipend and health insurance so long as I am making sufficient progress towards my defense; in turn, I will work full-time (no other jobs) on my dissertation until I am finished. My stipend/benefits are supposed to be provided by my advisor but the contract is with the grad school, not the advisor. This cannot be the first time a lab has been in this situation, and I do not understand how the university can make such a promise to their students with absolutely no plan in place or money set aside to make good on it.I am angry that students and post-docs have no organization to lend them support in this situation. The post-docs are contracted with the institution, but their contract specifically states that it is contingent upon "sufficient and available funds". The students are supposedly contracted with the grad school but apparently this is a joke. BH suggested that I take this case to the students union. What's that? We don't have one.It could always be worse I guess. I have it better than several of the post-docs who are affected by this...I guess it's less critical to have a bullet-proof CV when applying for post-docs than it is when applying for faculty positions. I'm thanking my lucky stars that this is a less critical transition than the one they are facing, and I hope that they'll be alright. But I am still very angry about the whole thing.This is totally fucking ass-sucking awful.