Friday Firing Lines for Nov. 15, 2013

Every Friday, the Daily Texan editorial board will publish a selection of tweets and online comments culled from the Daily Texan website and the various Daily Texan Twitter accounts, along with direct submissions from readers. 

Our intention is to continue the tradition of the Firing Line, a column first started in the Texan in 1909, in which readers share their opinions “concerning any matter of general interest they choose.” Just like in 1909, the Texan “will never express its approval or disapproval of opinions given under the [Firing Line] header.” In other words, take your shot. 

Submissions can be sent to [email protected]com.


On the benefits of free pizza 

Dear Editor,

I write today over concern that those criticizing the Graduate Student Assembly expenditures on pizza and a community event fail to understand the nature of graduate student organizing.

I represented my department (Cell & Molecular Biology) in the Graduate Student Assembly for two years, and I represented the entire Graduate School in Student Government for a similar period. I don’t eat pizza (food allergies) and I’m a science doctoral candidate, so you can rest assured my motivations for participating involve neither my resume nor my stomach.

In my experience, people join Student Government either in order to serve or because they plan to attend law school (or both). Most graduate students are already serving, however: We create information and research for the public good, and we do it for little or — more likely — no pay. In my doctoral program, the salary is $24,000 per year, unusually high. Many of us have families to care for, or second jobs to worry about.

We don’t have many classes, so we don’t meet other graduate students outside of our departments. When something comes up which affects UT’s ability to recruit or retain promising researchers (alias: graduate students), it’s nearly impossible to let our fellow post-baccalaureates know — let alone gather information or address the problem.

Yet pizza accomplishes something: It gets a bunch of masters and doctoral students together every other week, in hopes that they might become engaged to make UT a better place. The carnival is probably more important. It helps graduate students coalesce into a community, something that undergraduates take for granted.

“What starts here changes the world.” That sentence is referring at least in part to the research we do here. When people talk about the quality of an institution, they’re usually referring to the quality of the research produced. When graduate students head off to other posts in academia and industry, it reflects well on UT for its researchers to look back fondly upon the experience.

Seems like pizza is the least we can do.



John Woods

National Science Foundation Fellow

Defending on November 25th, 2013 (without the benefit of pizza or carnivals)


Further confusion about the regents 

“Can’t tell if he’s clueless or making himself look clueless” — Twitter user Fernand J Sosa, in response to the Daily Texan editorial board’s Q-and-A with Student Regent Nash Horne


You still don’t like the sex columns 

“Your sex coverage is polluting my Twitter stream. Unfollow.”  — Twitter user Bob Metcalfe, in response to The Daily Texan’s tweet, “Fabulous Frank needs your advice: how does he get a good blow job?” 


Shared Services will make a difference for staff 

“I think Associate Professor Martinez needs to rethink the following sentence: ‘If the aim of Shared Services is really to help UT’s core missions: teaching and research, then its benefits should be used for teaching and research. Not spent on a ridiculously expensive way to make administrators’ jobs easier. It’s just not that important for them to make three keystrokes instead of ten.’

As a UT staff I must say that it is incredible infuriating to see how deeply disconnected faculty can seem from the reality that staff faces at this university. First of all, the argument presented, ‘It’s just not that important for them to make three keystrokes instead of ten’, is completely ignorant and simplistic. Staff process an incredible amount of documentation on behalf of faculty on a daily basis. Without this type of administrative assistance faculty would not be able to survive in the academic system. What would this university be without administrative staff? Faculty, their research, their teaching, and their lucrative careers would simply not exist. The issue is not that black and white and I encourage Professor Martinez to talk to the staff in his department. Especially with the staff who process his documentation.” 

— Online commenter “V,” in response to Associate Professor Alberto Martinez’s opinion column, “The problem with Hegarty’s plan to save UT money? It costs too much.”