Things I Saw In Stony Brook: Dueling Poster Edition

I feel like this is a famous image, but I can't find the source of it. Looks like something that would have run in the New Yorker in the 40s. Anyone know?

So in response to some pretty vicious program cut proposals, as well as some substantial fee hikes, there’s been talk here about the research assistants going on strike (remember, Stony Brook is a New York state school). I’m not taking a stance either way, and don’t actually have to, since I’m paid to teach and not to research at the moment. But there are two things I love about this that made it postworthy. First, I love anytime that someone gets to trump someone else’s argument using a combination of their own imagery and some slightly goofy, lunchbox-based humor. On the other hand, I also love that the “no strike” people got their bulletin up first, particularly because, to be honest, a research assistant strike would be hilariously hard to take seriously. Particularly in the physics department. I mean, a lot of these people are borderline geniuses, who could be making huge amounts of money in the private sector but voluntarily agreed to spend several years working for an astonishingly low salary just so they can have the privilege of spending more time doing research. And… yeah… we’re supposed to believe that NOW they’ll quit working until they’re paid more?

Don’t get me wrong. I actually think that some of their demands are pretty reasonable and legit. I’m just saying, even if they claim they’re striking, I’m positive 80% of them will be crossing the cyber-picketlines every evening so that they can keep reading the latest articles in  Physical Review Letters :-).

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About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

3 Responses to Things I Saw In Stony Brook: Dueling Poster Edition

  1. Moominmamma says:

    Maybe these research assistants have too much integrity to work for megabucks in the private sector. Megabucks usually come in the financial services industry, after all. Such a shame that we have a society that rewards lying and cheating and denigrates scientific research.

    • Colin West says:

      True enough, and I applaud them for that. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t questioning their choice! Heck, I applaud them for whatever their motivation was– anyone who thinks that studying the inner workings of the universe is a more noble calling than making money hand over fist is okay with me. I just think it demonstrates that they probably love their work more than the average union member who might consider striking.

      Perhaps also I shouldn’t have used the term “megabucks.” According to AIP data about starting salaries for people with physics bachelors degrees, even those employed in the science and technology arm of the private sector tend to make twice as much as university researchers working in graduate programs, even though these people are still only making in the mid five-figure range themselves.

      Also, the median public school teacher salary for physics majors seems to be a little higher than it is for researchers, so maybe Scott Walker was right about how teachers are freeloading off of the public after all!

  2. Moominmamma says:

    Interesting chart. I see as well how starting high school teachers are doing so much better than their private-sector STEM counterparts. ;)

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