Dear Language and Literature Faculty—Give it Up for the Grad Students

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

I received an email yesterday, as I am sure many of you did, from the MLA (actually the email was from Rosemary Feal but I digress) requesting help funding graduate students. What interests me about this email is the direct appeal to “grassroots” funding rather than trying to find big donors. I realize that I am fairly anti-institutional (institutions of all kinds) and have been critical of the MLA in the past for not moving into the digital sphere fast enough but this seems a step in the right direction.

Attending MLA, not to mention being on the job market can be an expensive endeavor, forcing poor underfunded graduate students to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars when all is said and done. While I think much could be done to reduce the cost (hello electronic submission, and don’t ask for a transcript unless you really need it), this is a short term fix. As it stands, according to the email there were two hundred applicants who the MLA was not able to fund with a $300 travel grant to attend the conference. The solution is simple, microfund, if 6,000 tenure track faculty each gave $10 all of the grad students who applied could receive the grant. (A grant which for most would not even cover airfare I might add.) So, please consider clicking this link and helping out some poor job seeking grad student. Do it for the grad student you used to be, or do it just to demonstrate the power of the digital. (And maybe next time they will have a link that doesn’t require you to sign in to give.)

Update: A representative of the MLA commented below, and I was wrong. Non-members can contribute click the link below the login.