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monro6

Thinking about resigning my assistantship

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My department occasionally rotates graduate assistants around the department, and for this upcoming semester I have been rotated into a situation which can only be described as hostile. The professor I am supposed to work for has made accusations against me in the past, which have all been unfounded and resulted in no action taken (Note: I have been told by multiple professors to not worry about these accusations and just let them deal with them for me). I am not sure what to do in this situation, and I only see three options.

(1) Work for this professor, but I honestly believe should would go out of her way to make my life miserable and degrade my position in the department, with more BS.

(2) Go to the department chair, and plead to be switched to a different position.  I feel this would make me look like I am unwilling to be flexible and erode my standing with the department chair, and cause awkwardness in the department. (This is what my fellow cohort have pushed for me to do).

(3) Resign and make up some reason why I cannot work the hours etc.

I honestly have no idea what to do.

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Would any of the professors who have dealt with this professor for you in the past, be willing to speak to the department chair on your behalf? I don't believe either options 1 or 3 are viable options for you and going to the department chair is the only thing you can do. Does the department have an assistant chair who takes care of things like this? That might be a more relaxed situation for you.

 

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I think you should do some sort of option 2. I don't know the history you have or why it would make you seem inflexible. However, it sounds like whatever the past was (no need to explain here), it has been documented somewhere and you should be able to work with someone else.

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I would vote for some version of option 2. Best if there is a trusted advisor/professor/DGS who you can turn to to help you navigate the situation. They must remember the past history between you two; I'm not sure why they would have assigned you to this professor, but it would be in everyone's best interest to avoid a repeat of any allegations and drama. You don't even need to come out and explicitly say it, the problem should be clear. 

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If you say that "multiple professors" have told you not to worry about the accusations, it suggests that more faculty have your back than you perhaps realise (and the chair could already be aware of the problem). When talking to the chair stick the objective facts as much as possible, try avoid bringing your emotions/feelings into the discussion. That will go a long way towards making you come across as professional and serious.

"Awkwardness" and "unwilling to be flexible" aren't the worst things to be attached to your name. Is "awkwardness" really a less attractive option than being "miserable"? (That's a rhetorical question: it isn't)

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I feel like there are other options besides the three you outlined. If you need the assistantship for the income (and/or tuition remission) it provides, then definitely don't resign your position. Listen, we've all worked for terrible bosses who make our lives miserable, whether that's in graduate school or elsewhere in our lives. I'm definitely not saying you should suck it up but, there are ways to protect yourself such as getting the requirements for your assistantship listed in as much detail as possible (you could even write it up for both of you to sign so you have a record). 

That said, politely asking the dept chair (or whomever makes assistantship assignments) whether there are other openings is probably what I'd do first. If indeed others are aware of the conflict you've had with that particular prof, then there may be things going on behind the scenes regarding your assignment that you aren't privy to. At any rate, it can't hurt to ask if you ask professionally (that is, based solely on facts, no accusations, no begging or pleading, etc.). Good luck!

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