Dear Humans: you're doing it wrong, part II

Once upon a time¹, in a land far, far away², an Institution located in the distant, forgotten realms of its kingdom³ offered free meals during colloquium and seminar talks which were held over lunchtime. The exact reasons such noble act of charity took place is unknown; some defended the hypothesis that, by offering free food, graduate scholarships could be kept lower; others were adamant to a Dilbert'ian argument, in which the meals were just part of an intricate mechanism which, masked under a veil of convenience, had the evil intent of denying the poor students' of the bright daylight which shined outside, keeping them longer in the dark confines of their academic dungeons⁴.

One day⁵, a note was posted on the citadel's walls⁶. It read

Dear members,
Due to the unavailability of a speaker for today's talk it will be cancelled. Lunch will be for sale in the first floor kitchen at the price of $5 a serving (Cabbage rolls or Lasagna).
Sorry for any inconvenience.
So would begin the story of Joe Student⁷, who, being already on his way to the Institute when said email was sent, was denied of the chance to plan accordingly, eventually buying lunch elsewhere or preparing a more nutritious and less expensive meal alternative at home to be brought along. Fortunately for the readers of this post, our hero had long left those dominions, and, having sailed across the wide oceans back to his original dwellings, so avoided further instalments of this tragedy to develop.
- - -
Or maybe not. Still subscribing to IQC's mailing list, I couldn't help meddling with the affairs of others. Your struggle is my struggle, or something like that. Ergo, these ramblings.

Academia in general, and the Institute for Quantum Computing in this particular example, should strive towards a consistent and responsible behaviour with regards to its members. While it is commendable that, given the RAC buildings' inaccessible location, lunch is provided (and furthermore, in a free-of-charge fashion, usually thrice a week), and while still noting that it is not the particular monetary value in question that should matter - though graduate students living on a tight budget from a scholarship may fully disagree - still one should not impart on the students and researchers the hindrance or misfortune of a last-minute cancellation of a lunch talk, lest at some point the quest for a speaker may end up worded as "please deliver a seminar talk during lunchtime, otherwise we'll be obliged to pay for food".

A discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of the lunch seminar series, or furthermore on whether the offering of free food can be seen as (unqualified) social aid or alms, or even on the laughable conditions faced by students which leads to the above points at all being issues worthy of mention, is beyond the scope of this post - for now.
- - -
[1] "Nowadays" doesn't sound as nice.
[2] Waterloo, Canada.
[3] The RAC buildings, a good half hour walk from the University ring.
[4] The windowless 2003 or 2117 rooms.
[5] Today.
[6] An email sent out to the Institute's mailing list
[7] The author.

1 comment:

qBot said...

Many good books you must have read, judging by your sublime style. I like it :) Wish I could mouth my thoughts like that.