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DeadFIL t1_iweiabu wrote

I disagree with most of what your saying. UC TAs are almost always graduate students with degrees in their field and have successfully passed the course they TA with a decent grade (I think a minimum of a B was required, but I forget). That is specialized training and they should be paid as such.

That said, they make bank already. I was being paid over $350 hours per week for 10 hours of work to TA. And that 10 hours is no joke, either, you can pretty much just walk out of the room halfway through teaching a lesson if you hit your weekly hours and the union will have your back. I personally never got close to doing the full 10 outside of midterms and finals when we had lots of tests to grade. Also, they pay for all of your tuition and fees , valued at around $600 per week when I was there a couple of years ago. For anyone not following the math, that's a $95/hour compensation package; far better than almost any of these people will make after getting their degree.

The problem is that you can only get 10 or 20 hour/week positions, so you can't go at it full time (I'd still be there if you could lmao). But still, I always felt like I was making out like a bandit. I can eat, pay rent, smoke weed, have honbies, and go to class; all that comes from 10 hours a week of going over homework problems with undergrads. I was always shocked that people wanted to strike when I felt like I was living like a king. If they can squeeze the UC system for even more than more power too them, I guess (though you gotta wonder how many will then turn around and complain that the UC system is too expensive).


kewpiebara t1_iwgyc8s wrote

If you were at my university, you’d have $200-400 per month at that salary left for living expenses lol


DeadFIL t1_iwh1s5u wrote

I went to the UC with the highest housing prices, at least at the time.

For a 25% TAship (10 hours per week), you're under the threshold for SNAP, so you don't need to pay for food.

I was making roughly $1400/month, and had around $600/month leftover after living expenses. That's sharing a room in a mediocre apartment. If you had your own room, then your $200-400 is probably close, but what you mean "left for living expenses"? That's after living expenses (rent, utilities, food). How would you have $200-400 before expenses? Where did the other $1000 go that you don't consider living expenses?

To me, the fact that I could work just 10 hours per week and pay my living expenses, let alone have a few hundred bucks afterwards, was great. I mean, how many people do you know who make enough that they could drop to 1/4 of full time and still pay rent? Particularly since I had just finished undergrad at the same school, where I worked 20+ hours per week and still needed to take out loans for housing (in addition to taking out loans for tuition), I was living on cloud 9 in grad school. Tuition was paid for, living expenses were paid for, I had a little money for fun, and I was able to chip away at my loans.

Again, if they get more money then good for them; I just never really got the complaints. That was undoubtedly the most I've ever been paid for unit of effort. But hey, most of these grad students are making more per hour now than they ever will again, so might as well get it while the getting is good 👍


kewpiebara t1_iwhpgui wrote

By living expenses I meant other than rent and utilities, my bad. Like food, medicine, and transportation or repairs to your bike. So I meant $200-400 left to spend on things other than rent. You still do 30 hours per week or more for working as a researcher on top of a TA-ship. Your experience doesn’t capture everybody else’s.

A few hundred bucks is not much cushion for emergencies, yearly rent increase, or inflation.


DeadFIL t1_iwhsmbr wrote

>You still do 30 hours per week or more for working as a researcher on top of a TA-ship.

At my school (probably through the whole UC system, but I don't know about the other UCs), a GSR (graduate student researcher) is paid at the same rate, ~$35/hr, as a TA. I don't believe you can be both at once, though I'm not certain about that. If you're doing research unrelated to a GSR then it would be your own research towards your thesis or dissertation, so literally school work.

Sure, my experience doesn't capture everybody else's, but it does a pretty damn good job of capturing that of other students who had a TA or GSR position because I've worked in both of those positions within the last two years at the UC with the worst housing market.

My big issue here is that half the grad students get (in my opinion) an excellent funding package while the other half gets (objectively) jackshit. If you're lucky and get a funded position like a TAship or GSRship, you're on easy street (relatively speaking). If you're unlucky and you can't get such a position, not only will you be unable to find a job that pays nearly the hourly rate TAs make, you'll also have to pay for your own tuition and fees (which are covered for TAs/GSRs/GSIs and cost $6000+ per 10 week quarter otherwise).

Instead of making the schools affordable for the students, they've just been constantly upping the compensation for the subset of the students that have funded positions. They could build more affordable on-campus housing or reduce tuition for all grad students or just generally make any attempt at making the process affordable, rather than jacking up the price of everything and then giving some students the ability to pay for it.


kewpiebara t1_iwhr5li wrote

Also, please talk to many other grad students— I know too many people with rent burden or living paycheck to paycheck while putting in long hours of effort. No payment adjustment with inflation. My parents are aging. My health is taking a hit from stress. The future is getting bleak and we also need to establish decent pay for every single grad worker before it inflation takes us out.