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Responsibilities during winter break


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Hi all,

I was wondering how common it is to be expected to work during the winter break? I work as a research assistant for a professor and he is expecting his 5 RA's to work during the winter break. 4 of us are PhD students and one is a master's student. At the previous institution I was at it was clearly stated by the graduate school that you worked from the time classes began until the last day of finals week and that was the end of your responsibilities. At the place I am at now, there seems to be no policy in place about when graduate assistants work and don't work.

So I am basically wondering how common it is to be expected to work during the winter break? None of the other RAs in the department are working or are expected to that I have talked with. I think its a major league douche move on the professors part. Any thoughts?


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I'd say it depends on your contract. In my department, it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask someone to work during that time because we get paid over the break. Part of the reason they pay us is so we can do things like course prep for spring semester, as far as I understand it. So, at least in my dept, you might not like it and it might not be the norm but you also can't complain since we sign contracts explicitly covering dates over winter break.

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I'm a first year trying to figure out what to do with breaks. I'm taking about 2 weeks off (12/18-1/2). I wish I wasn't going to be gone for so long, but I had some pressure from family to make it a long vacation. Next year, I think I'll tell them I can't take that much time off. There are no explicit rules in my department. The amount of time people take off (or work from home, or "work" from home) varies a lot. I am expected to keep up with my assistantship (not a TAship this semester, but similar) during break, as well as research.

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The general rule in our program is you work the months you get paid.

So yes, we work winter break. I'll probably be here til the 20th, take off 'til the 25th, work the rest of the week, and then take the next weekend and New Years off again.

The unspoken rule is that we get ~ 2 weeks vacation per year- it's specified in some departments. Some PIs are OK with us taking off more, as needed- especially international students who want to go home for a month or 6 weeks. They frequently don't get paid for the month they're gone, however. My PI does specifically offer (at least for the summer) the option of not getting paid if we want the time off, although no one's ever taken him up on it.

It also really depends what's going on at the time. We're moving into a new lab starting next week, and I've got a manuscript that needs a lot of work right now. I've had manuscript deadlines in early January the last two years, and that's really pushed winter break into intensive writing territory.

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