Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Undergrad Labor aka I would die without Work-Studys.

We have no professional staff looking after the multitude of critters we keep in the science building. We have no TAs to grade our papers. We have no grad students to set up and run our labs. We have one secretary among 6 departments. We rely almost completely on undergrad labor. Moreover, everyone working for us must be under the federal financial aid program Work-Study. The government pays their wages, so we don't have to.

Really grateful for the program. But undergrad labor presents a few problems: 1. When school is out, someone else has to feed our critters. We do have a retiree who is a do-everything guy, and he will often do it. But he travels, too. So sometimes its me in there on Christmas day feedin' the critters. 2. What gets done is determined by the number of work-study students which apply (among all the work-study jobs on campus) for critter feedin' and cleanin'. Wouldn't you rather sit in the library and study and occasionally check out a book for your federal minimum wage, as opposed to cleaning smelly cages? 3. The quality and consistency of the work is highly variable among students and therefore from semester to semester. 4. Some work-studys can't help you with grading because they are in your class! 5. Depending on how advanced they are, there are lab set ups that they haven't learned enough to help you with.

But I have been very pleased with the students the last few semesters. They are a competent and consistent bunch lately. Today was a great example where something had to be done immediately and I was in class. I could delegate with confidence that it would be done. And it got done. Thanks so much to our do-it-all retiree and to his charges, the science center work- study students. Hoorah!!

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