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Other Grad student colleague question

  1. Jul 13, 2018 #1

    I am a grad student and share an office with 4 other grad students. I have a question about one of the students. We have been in the same office for 2 yrs. The student mostly sleeps while they are here. Every day this week, the student has slept from almost the moment they get in. I even hear an alarm go off on their phone if they have to teach, which seems to imply they plan on sleeping while they are here. Should I say anything to the student or continue to keep my mouth shut? It bothers me because this student is taking up a spot in the department, not to mention the department is paying them.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2018 #2


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    I'm going to put on my Dear Abby hat and ask you if he/she (your use of "they" to refer to this student made your post VERY confusing, since there are also other students in the office) is actually bothering you. Is he/she snoring so loudly that it is disturbing you while you're in your office? Does he/she have bad body ordor from sleeping so much in the office?

    It really isn't your business if the students is taking a spot in the dept, or that the dept is paying for him/her. This is between him/her and the dept. For all you know, this student is doing everything that he/she is supposed to do. So unless the student interferes directly with your well-being and your studies, then you should really mind your own business and leave him/her alone.

  4. Jul 13, 2018 #3

    Ok, thank you for the reply. It is only one student I am speaking of in the office. It genuinely bothers me because I feel like this student is taking advantage of the situation. But, I agree that it is between the student and the department. There is some snoring throughout the day, but as you can imagine, the student remains pretty quiet. Thanks for the advice Dr. Abby. I will mind my own business
  5. Jul 13, 2018 #4


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    Perhaps this student is a "night owl" who does most of his/her work at night when you aren't there, and therefore sleeps during the day?
  6. Jul 13, 2018 #5
    jtbell, thanks for post... I guess there are a few more details that I didn't share but I am still going to stay out of it. The student was supposed to have graduated by now. The student has said they won't work weekends or at home, and that the department is only really paying for thirty hours of work a week. They are a night owl, but I think they stay up doing other activities instead of research.
  7. Jul 13, 2018 #6


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    I agree that you should stay out of this, but I'm nevertheless curious. :smile: Is this person just a teaching assistant, or also a research assistant under a faculty supervisor? If he/she was supposed to graduate by now, he/she must have been supposed to start research by now, right? (assuming this is a Ph.D. student)
  8. Jul 13, 2018 #7

    Yes, the student should have completed their thesis and defended by now (2010 entry into program). They were an RA up until January 2018, when they became a TA again.
  9. Jul 13, 2018 #8


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    Perhaps we can all use this as an anecdote to underscore the consequences of taking advantage of a situation. While I understand that in some cases a PhD can take more than the expected 4-6 years to complete for reasons that are beyond the student's control, sleeping in the office certainly seems to be a behaviour counter to completing his or her dissertation.

    Chances are this student's supervisor is already well aware of the issue. At some point the supervisor will likely use some "stick" techniques (as opposed to carrot techniques) to get him/her to graduate... pull funding, confront the student with a mandatory deadline, etc.
  10. Jul 13, 2018 #9
    Soon to be finished grad student here (next month, fingers crossed). This is an interesting one. By your initial description, I thought that maybe this was a first year student. I've seen this type of behavior from first years and generally it does not end well. My advice would have been to gently ask them how their studies are going, etc., and if they would want to study with you (assuming you shared some common classes or something). I've witnessed downward spirals in the past and have been in a position to offer some study help, but the person has to want it. The caveat with this is to not let the person take you down with them.

    But this is not your case. It looks like this senior grad student is truly burned out. I agree with the above statements that it's not your business or concern. Especially, I would not worry about them "taking advantage" of the department. The department knows what its doing and, to a large extent, graduate students are the ones helping the department when it comes to minimum wage teaching/research duties. I'm not actually that cynical, but I would think they have the situation under control.

    Finally, many people (you and I included) feel a need to be proactive and useful in their roles, especially when they are being paid. Not everyone shares this sense of responsibility, and it is even possible to achieve things (like a PhD) without it. But, ultimately, I would try not to worry about how others conduct themselves. Your own work ethic will serve you well.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  11. Jul 13, 2018 #10

    Dr. Courtney

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    For a student merely sharing office space, I agree with the advice to mind your own business.

    If a fellow grad student was sharing responsibilities with me or if their behavior was setting a bad example for junior students I had some responsibility for (same research group, for example), I'd speak to the issue. First to the snoozer, then to their research supervisor if speaking to the snoozer directly did not help.
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