Graduate Assistants Start Crowdsourcing Their Work Conditions. How Will Your College Stack Up?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ever curious as to what those in your field are getting paid or how they’re treated? Joshua Boldt, a freshman composition instructor at the University of Georgia, was. He created The Adjunct Project for that very reason, asking other adjunct professors to contribute to a publicly editable spreadsheet, detailing their school, department, various benefits and pay.

Boldt told the Chronicle of Higher Education the goal of his crowdsourcing project was “to praise universities that treat adjunct professors well and ‘out’ those that do not.” Tens of thousands of views later, his mission is closer to getting accomplished.

Inspired by Boldt’s project, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Nancy Poole, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has started a similar project. She’s asking graduate students to anonymously list information like where they go to school, the cost of tuition there, their stipend, whether or not they receive benefits and more. She’s calling it “The Graduate Assistant Project,” and is hoping to get an inside look on the working conditions of other graduate assistants at different schools.

Although only 14 people have responded thus far, it’ll be interesting to track who responds and how they respond. Most graduate students work for meager pay considering the high price of college tuition. They run themselves crazy all for experience, yet unless they’re guaranteed a job from that experience, the assistantship won’t help them pay off their loans.

One graduate assistant from UMass Amherst filled in the spreadsheet, claiming she can’t live on her pay. “I borrow $12,000 a year just to pay for living expenses and art materials,” she wrote. “I used to work part-time and make extra money until I entered thesis. My stipend covers gas to school and food.”

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