Breathing, and Stipends

It’s Saturday, after a very busy week of classes, and I feel like I can’t breathe properly anymore. It’s just one thing after another. I thought I’d be in the semester groove by now, but it hasn’t happened yet. Already this weekend I’m behind, a situation that shouldn’t happen until late October at least. I hope I’m not burning out. I felt like that Thursday morning. Then again, there is no caffeine in the apartment. Maybe I just need my Coca-cola fix, and I can then read through the fifty hojillion pages I need to get through by tonight. I can’t do an all-nighter as H and I are taking a trip tomorrow, but I might stay up too late anyway.

The English department drama that I mentioned earlier was over our teaching assistant stipends. On the 28th, the first day of classes, we all got an email saying the stipend would be cut by over 25% percent in the spring. We’re already well underpaid – the second-lowest in the nation among English departments, according to the Chronicle of Higher Ed two years ago. I’m paid a little more as I’m doctoral, but not much.

Muttering, both constructive and not, ensued. The TAs met to discuss a response.

Earlier this week the department suddenly took back those cuts before the TAs managed to make a official communal response (although the grumbling from the dungeon, the TA offices on the first floor, I think, got heard in some form upstairs, through certain faculty) but there is still resentment, particularly since little explantation was given for why there was a cut to begin with. The drama is not over yet. There will probably be a department/TA meeting to try and resolve the strange lack of communication, and we’ll probably get an official explanation. Either way, I think the TAs will organize as a result of this.

It’s a drain on time to worry about these things, really, when I’ve got papers to go out, clases to teach, and classes to take, but stuff happens and it has to be dealt with. I don’t feel particularly self-conscious about mentioning this to the universe right now, as it’s been almost two weeks since the TAs were told of this, and the news has doubtlessly trickled out in plenty of informal mediums, either in rumor or factoid form.

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