Last week, an article entitled, ‘TAs Have Too Much Power,’ was published in the New University. After reading the article, I asked other graduate students how well the article depicted graduate TAs.
Their answers inspired this article. Having been a UC Irvine graduate, I understand the complex relationship between undergrads, professors and TAs.
Now a third-year grad student, that understanding has only deepened.
First, UC professors are required to publish significantly more than their state college counterparts in order to advance.
Less emphasis is placed upon teaching, and more on research.
This ratio is what makes UCI ranked in the top 10 public schools in the nation.
As a result, UC professors rely heavily on their graduate students. In some cases, such as Social Ecology 194W or Humanities Core, both of which require 20-plus page papers, what else would you expect one professor lecturing 300 to 400 students to do but rely greatly on the TAs for grades?
And why not? UCI has attracted the finest graduate students from across the country.
But apparently some students view this arrangement as unacceptable, a reason to take up arms against any TA that gives grades lower than deserved (undergrad translation: any grade lower than an A).
Yes, all of you wronged individuals run to your professor’s door and demand that your cruel TA be publicly humiliated for their unjust behavior.
Why not? These TAs are just the ‘quasi-man,’ driven by personal agendas, and an innate joy of seeing A-students receive lower grades, supported by professors who promote such behavior or, worse, don’t care. This, of course, is all BS.
Unfortunately, the grading in these classes is subjective. Having been a TA for such courses multiple times, I have learned that when you criticize someone’s writing, it is as if you are criticizing their lovemaking.
If you want to have someone truly dislike you, just tell him or her they can’t write.
Most TAs in these writing courses are attuned to the sensitivity of the situation and try to provide negative along with positive feedback.
Yet it is inevitable that some students take feedback to heart. As a result, some of these students believe that TAs have hidden agendas for giving them a lower grade.
Moreover, some undergrads assert that TAs are biased and involve personal preference when assigning grades.
Some undergrads claim that challenging the TA in class results in a lower score.
Everything from the car you drive, friends you associate with, girl or guy you sleep with, down to the socks you wear are all driven by personal preference.
So why do some students still feel the urge to piss off a TA and then sit back and cry about it?
Yes, every TA is supposed to overlook rude behavior and grade impartially, but let’s be real.
Don’t do it, show your TAs respect and 99 percent of the time they will return the favor. If you disagree with a TA’s grade, ask to speak to them one-on-one. If you put down your punching gloves, chances are your TA will too.
Lastly, UCI has excellent undergrads, many of whom are destined for great accomplishments. But there are some students at UCI that have an unjustified sense of entitlement.
These students cry about how unfair life is, and blame the overworked, underpaid TA.
Hey, this is a generation that does nothing, the product of a generation that fought for a better future

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