Food’s Worst Enemy: The Graduate Student

I can’t say I can think of anything more scary for any food service employee than a pack of graduate students. Like hyenas descending on a limping antelope, grad students appear and within mere minutes all that is left is some bone that has been picked clean, some half-eaten pizza crusts and a tray of Brussel sprouts. You would think that these young adults hadn’t eaten a morsel in their lives (but in reality they ate, on average, a mere hour ago…). Now, I am no exception to this rule, as my peers at both Stonehill and UConn know. I can demolish food with the best of them, though my tastes are slightly different from my comrades in chemistry (mountains of fruit fall to my hunger).
Now I am convinced that if you put the term “free food” in the context of any notification, you are sure to have graduate students appear (even if they aren’t explicitly invited). So long as the event does not prohibit graduate student attendance, they will be there (oddly enough they would show up at almost the exact time the food is served). The allure of food is (almost) enough to get most students to attend all of the guest or faculty seminars (though most times they pull a “pearl harbor”: sneak in, take out half a tray of cookies, stuff some in their pockets, and evacuate back to their lab before anyone knows what happened). You would think by now that at the end of every thesis template they would put…”And if you complete this ahead of schedule, you will be treated to the restaurant of your choice on the university’s tab”. How much more of an incentive would a grad student need?
Now being the scientist that I am, I tried to rationalize why this “free food” phenomena occurs. Is it that graduate students have overactive metabolisms? Is it the fact that the majority of us get paid less than minimum wage? Or is it some synergistic effect of free and food that makes the graduate student such a force to be reckoned with at the dinner table? And what of the “pearl harbor” observation?
Since I currently am snowed in, I really don’t have access to the pool of data that I would want. I merely can tell you based on past experiences and my own thoughts on what the ravenous hunger of the grad student stems from. I tend to believe that the food cravings of the grad student more relate to their income than to actual metabolism. I mean we do work 10 to 12+ hours per day on average and we are likely to be somewhat more hungry than the average joe but not to the point of constant hunger. So to offer them something that saves them money and could even makes them more productive by saving them time preparing a meal or cooking one is greatly appealing (I know that last part may be a stretch but I think you get the point). But why do we eat as if we have been stranded on an island for weeks? Well I can liken it to the insanity that occurs in supermarkets before winter storms. People shop not because they think they will be forever snowed in, but because they don’t know when they will have time again to get out and shop due to the disruption of their regular schedule. Grad students consume like they do because they have such busy schedules that they don’t know they will have time again later. But what about “pearl harboring”. I think the same principle applies. Grad students are so focused on their work they it takes a really strong force to pull them away from it. Food is good enough but at the expense of losing time to a seminar they could care less about, they take the less demanding hit-and-run path (like most chemical reactions :P).

So that’s it for today. Hopefully this snow storm doesn’t seal me in my apartment for the rest of the week (although its not looking too promising right now). I have some interesting news coming shortly and a new review on its way so stay tuned! Ckellz…Signing off…


1 Comment

  1. free food…that’s the exactly the reason I would show up to the ecology seminars lol

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