Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Worst Part About Being a Graduate Student at Ohio State

A few weeks ago, some prospective graduate students were visiting our department. After coffee one day, they were put in a room with graduate students so they could ask us questions about pretty much anything free from faculty members and any pretence of a social setting. These kinds of situations are usually kind of amusing because we graduate students usually come off sounding like happy drugged babbling people. (In visiting faculty candidates, this behavior often elicits a reaction of (in a confused tone), "Everyone seems really happy here ...")

So one obvious question we got from a prospective student was, "What's the worst part about being a graduate student here?" While most of the grad students were composing eloquent responses along the lines of, "duhr ....," one student, without missing a beat, replied, "Those two weeks in September when they've turned off the air conditioning but it's still really hot outside and so it gets to be like 85° in the offices." Everyone laughed, haha, but oh, man, there's some truth to that.

Except that's not actually the worst part. The two weeks in March when it's started to get warm outside but they won't turn on the air conditioning (or turn off the heat?) have got to be worse. In September, you see it coming, you're already used to wearing summery clothes, but in March you're still naively wearing a jacket everyday and then one day it's warm and it's like WHAM! and your palms get all sweaty just from the exertion of typing in your 80+° office. It's phenomenally horrid. And the whole bureaucratic reason behind it is so absurd: somewhere there is a Big Switch, and apparently they can only flip the Big Switch twice a year, and because of the ingenius cooling system in our building, they can't risk having the AC on (or the heat off?) when there is a risk of the outside temperature going below freezing. It's so ridiculous. I want to be glad it's warm outside, not wandering whether or not I'm coming down with a fever before remembering, oh yeah.

Good thing there are no proposal or funding or other kinds of deadlines this time of year and we can happily go a week or so without working ...


Jon Voisey said...

We have the opposite problem here. They've turned the AC on in the room I spend the majority of time in and it doesn't shut off. It's a nice 70º outside, but inside it's in the low 60º's.

I was almost tempted to move class out into the hall it was so cold.

mollishka said...

As much as I hate the cold, too warm inside is worse, since if it's cold you can always wear another sweater. I generally like it warmer than most, so if I say it's too warm to work, it's really too warm to work.

revere said...

Since we also have our graduate students talk to candidates, do you think prospective students believe things are wonderful? I'm curious what you think the effect is.

mollishka said...

I think our prospectives do believe things are wonderful here because, well, most of we graduate students really are stupidly happy here. It's a good program. It also depends on the format; if you say, "hey graduate students, if you feel like showing up in the conference room at 11am to talk to prospectives, well, then, you should," then the grad students will self-select to show up. Also, if your prospectives are smart, they will think something is fishy (e.g., you treat your grad students like slaves) if they don't get some alone-time with them.