Late-night thoughts on a Chronicle column

So I can’t sleep–thanks to the party next door–and I’m ignoring my previous comment about not blogging at 1 a.m. There’s a column in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that’s haunting me. For those who can’t access the link, it’s the story of a post-doc in the sciences, who had an abusive advisor/research supervisor. The post-doc eventually gets out of the situation, and actually has people believe his story.

But for every one of the columnist who makes it out of a situation like that unscathed, there are dozens more, who have their careers ruined. For those who have the strength to fight back, others are crushed. For as lucky as I am with my advisor, others aren’t so lucky.

Abusers were often abused, themselves, and I wonder if the academic family is similar to the biological one, in this respect. Getting a graduate degree is often like hazing, and the institution’s dependence upon one’s advisor or committee is ripe for abuse of power and abuse of individuals.

But I like the concept of free will. If we are nothing more than objects of our environment or nuturing, then we don’t have a choice in our actions. I’d like to think that we do, and that we can make the choice to not treat others badly. It scares me to wonder how I’ll be, when faced with a similar situation. How will I treat my advisees? What kind of advisor am I going to be?

Edit: think I figured out that if I don’t have a title on a post, my RSS feed doesn’t update. Good discipline to make myself give things titles. I hate titles. Most times it’s the last thing I come up with on a piece of music, as well.


~ by Jen on July 8, 2006.

2 Responses to “Late-night thoughts on a Chronicle column”

  1. Sometimes people get through graduate school despite everything…

  2. Heya anon!I think grad school shouldn’t be easy…but I don’t think it should be the grueling ritual it is for some, either. In a perfect world, it should be rigorous, without crushing the person going through it.

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