Ok, this comic (while hilarious and disturbingly painful at the same time) has apparently incensed a certain demographic of the population.
PhD is a great and fun way to share the communal pain that is the academic life cycle (focused mainly on the nascent stage that is grad school, but communicates well to all involved). Once in a while they will show the absurdity of the real world in a particularly stunning way. This is just an example of that. However, when Catherine Rampell over at the NY Times decides this comic is worth publishing on her NYT blog. The first several comments have all been about her not understanding college athletics and this graph is misleading (I grant it isn't a torrential downpour of insults, more a trickle (by trickle I mean ~4 at the time I am writing this), but it irks me nonetheless).
Frankly, there isn't much to understand about what this comic illustrated. It shows that Faculty and most emphatically Grad Students make a pittance in comparison to other divisions of academia. While there can be some arguments that "this is how it should be" and "I don't want to do what the provosts do" etc. It is surprising, because without the faculty (and the grad students struggling to appease the faculty so that they may go on to be faculty themselves someday [or get a job that actually pays well]) the university system would not exist. I can stomach the administration getting paid more, because frankly I certainly DO NOT want to deal with the minutiae of university operations (just let me do my research, teach my classes, and occasionally sleep and/or get coffee). But when a football coach makes THAT much more than the people who actually matter at a university... frankly it is insulting.
The notion that football teams support universities (or any athletic endeavor) is a joke. Research supports the university system. Students wanting to learn and better themselves supports the university system. A bunch of overgrown gorillas chasing around a ball does NOT support the university system. You remove the football team, the university is still there (Look at Boston University). It reminds me of a particularly inept QB at my undergrad stating to the school paper one day:
"I am an athlete-student, not a student-athlete, and my priorities are playing ball."The quote was republished here, along with pointing out that his 2.6 is an excellent GPA. The point of this comic wasn't to change the way the pay scale works at universities (if only wishing made it so). If anything, it was to knock that infernal swagger out of the so-called "athlete-students". Most aren't going to make it in professional ball (Sunshine was a 3rd string publicity stunt for a bit, but that is it as far as I am aware). So they should take the time that they were lucky enough to get and LEARN. And the next time the university starts suggesting it may be time for a new stadium (or new uniforms, or whatever), it might be a valid point to suggest a new library (or expand the collection of the current one) or start updating lab facilities, or if there is that much money floating around why not reduce overhead on grants (stop strangling the faculty's research dollars and you might see a burst of productivity which leads to more research). Anyway that is one of my soap-boxes, I'm getting down now.-Bradlee "Sunshine" Van Pelt