BERKELEY, Calif. – With the University of California still denying the majority of graduate student employees basic rights and actively attempting to threaten or block part of their pay, the largest higher education strike in U.S. history continues. The strike has not only led many students to question the ethics, qualifications, and humanity of the UC regents administration, but also whether the resulting decrease in mandatory attendance should have such a positive impact on their mental health.
“Is this…how happy I should be?” asked sophomore Fara Wrights in awe as she strolled across campus with a slightly lessened burden of existential and academic doom. “Is this how a Stanford student feels? Or an Ivy-leaguer? I always daydreamed what it was like to maintain a simultaneous superiority-inferiority-complex without having to do as much work. Now I know.”
Junior physics major Umar A. Waley shared similar sentiments. “I get the UC doesn’t actually care about its students’ education, mental health, or general wellbeing, but we’re already used to that with our government and The College Board. I’m just happy that I get an extra hour or two of free time to overthink my life decisions.” He added, “Even though my participation and labs are still mandatory, it’s still nice to have that illusion of flexibility while drowning in work that won’t be graded fairly.”
Students with GSIs in the humanities chimed in as well. “It’s incredible to see how much less humanities scholars are getting paid than STEM scholars now that conversations are more transparent,” noted philosophy major Grant U. A. Wrights (Fara Wrights’ brother). “I guess these findings contribute to the UC’s trend of disregarding justice, morality, and things of non-tangible value.”
Undergrads seem to have mixed perceptions about how much time has actually elapsed from the official beginning of the strike to now. Some say it feels like it’s only been a week at most, while others claim years have passed since the UC had their act together. Many students reported using the extra time from skipping lectures in solidarity with the UAW to catch up on the pre-existing mountain of work, while others used the time to do the extra work professors are still assigning. However, in the end, the mirage of a normal, healthy work-life balance seems to be much appreciated by students across the board.