Let’s not overreact

RE: York TA apologizes after criticizing students on facebook
(http://www.thestar.com/news/article/956501–york-ta-apologizes-after-criticizing-students-on-facebook)

I don’t believe that university administration has any right to punish teaching assistants for things posted on their personal facebook pages, especially if the comments were anonymous generalizations.

As a TA, I know exactly what TAs are faced with, many of which were mentioned in this article.  There is a certain standard of education and if TAs take their jobs seriously, poorly written papers mean dozens of extra work that, as this article indicated, TAs are not paid for.

Last year, I was allotted 10 hours to grade 60 papers.  Each paper was about six pages in length.  If you do the math, that works out to about 10 minutes per essay.  To properly grade a well-written paper in this amount of time would be hard enough; to grade one riddled with spelling/grammar and writing errors would be out of the question.  But the papers have to get graded and I would not be valuing the standard of education if I wasn’t to provide the students with a critical eye and crucial feedback.  TAs are also students who pay tuition and have a large workload of their own, so understand the frustration when they’re now being forced to donate hours of extra time for nothing but the encouragement of the quality of education.

Many times, students have a single written assignment and their TA is the sole person to look at their work.  If we don’t teach these students how to write (and in many cases, how to spell and use punctuation), who is going to?  If they’re at this point when they are undergraduates, obviously our high school has already failed them.

Ranting about any of these things on my personal facebook page would be freedom of expression, not punishable action.

Also, I have a number of friends on facebook who are still undergraduate students; they constantly rant and rave about their TAs for how “stupid” and “incompetent” they are.  To copy and paste something I read on a friend’s wall: “TAs are nothing but worthless pieces of crap who do nothing but ruin my life”.  This student named the specific TA, professor, class and assignment she was referring to.  There are websites that students can “rate” their professors and TAs on – often providing atrocious comments.

Firstly, I’ve yet to hear about “official” action being taken against this student, or any other undergraduate for similar actions.  Also, respect goes both ways.

TAs are students who represent their university.  Undergraduates are students who represent their university.  So, why the double standard?