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Assistantship Issue

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If I'm reading between the lines correctly, I sense that you are worried that your advisor is unhappy with you for unknown reasons and is sticking you with this assistantship that you don't want. I doubt this is the case, but it's always a possibility. When they told you the initial decision was political, that was probably true. Maybe this other student knows somebody and had a favor done for them, maybe somebody in the department just liked something on their CV and wanted them, who knows. Maybe it was actually completely random, but they didn't want to tell you that they flipped a coin to decide your fate. 

As for the decision to renew your contract for this administrative assistantship, I don't think you should read too much into it. For one thing, your job probably required some training and it's easier to have you continue the position instead of hiring and training someone new. If you did the job particularly well, they may have also asked for you again. Second, I assume that this external assistantship could be given to any student at the university, not just those in your department. So it makes sense that your advisor would want to keep you on that assistantship if there's no guarantee that his or any other students in the department will get this assistantship if you don't continue it. It frees up funding for additional students in his lab.

I also wouldn't describe your contract as having a hole. Administrative positions are what they are - it's not very useful to have a TA who takes off for winter break when there's work to be done. Is it fair? Maybe not. I am also on an administrative-type assistantship that works the same way. My previous assistantship's hours ran with the student calendar, so once finals were over and grades were submitted, I could chill out for a few weeks until the next term started. With this assistantship, I'm working all year except for official holidays, although per our union's bargaining agreement, I am entitled to 21 days away from work. However, I haven't actually had any issues with taking time off to visit family or go on vacation and my hours are super flexible. My supervisor is extremely cool. 

As for your advisor, I'm not sure I follow that he doesn't have enough funding to go around. From what you've described, everyone in your lab is funded. Just because he's taking advantage of external assistantships doesn't mean there's not enough funding to go around. However, if he really is taking on students without a funding plan, that's a bit irresponsible. Although many departments won't allow admission of new students if they don't have a plan in place for funding, so there may be more going on behind the scenes than you know.

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Thank you for your response, Shadowclaw. I am very sorry to hear you're in a similar boat!  I understand your emphasis on not reading too much into it (and don't think I was), but I am getting paid a lot less to do a lot more, despite having come in with more experience and credentials than plenty of the students. It is indeed not fair and I came here to move my career forward...and this is not really doing that. So, I will advocate for a different situation, since they do not seem to care. Based on what I know about the lab's funding structure, am not sure how he plans to fund people in the next and following years. 

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