Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter: Undergrad teaching program needs reform

To the Editor:

An article released Tuesday by The Herald regarding the pay system for neuroscience teaching assistant positions made a lasting impression on many staff and students within and outside of NEUR 0010: “The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience.” We NEUR 0010 UTAs feel that this article, while necessarily bringing to light a fundamental university-wide issue that requires attention and consideration, did not comprehensively reflect administration-level failures to sufficiently fund for the efforts of neuroscience and other department TAs.

Instead, the framing of this article allocated much attention to the course instructors, Professor of Neuroscience Michael Paradiso and Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience John Stein, and other related faculty members. Our UTA staff recognize that the prominence of our voluntary responses, compared to those from other courses, was the central factor in the article’s scrutiny of NEUR 0010 in particular. Yet the danger in focusing on and selecting highly particular quotes from such a specific group, especially in the context of a university article, is that it inevitably misdirects attention to its immediate professors and associated faculty, distracting and deterring readers from understanding the fundamental issue residing at a greater level.

Importantly, we would like to see an article that is focused more on the university-wide devaluation of student labor, as this is not an issue unique to the neuroscience department. The current article does not emphasize enough that the discussion of the neuroscience department indicates a symptom of a larger issue, not something that is endemically wrong with the neuroscience department or the professors within it.

Anna Bjella ’18, Marilyn Bravo ’18, Stephanie Chan ’19, Lianne Cho ’18, Risako Kimura ’18,
Aidan O’Shea ’19, Oliver Tang ’19, Amy
Thoman ’18, Konrad Walek ’18, Adrianna Wenz ’18, Dorothy Yam ’19

NEUR 0010 undergraduate teaching assistants

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