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Rehab for (recovering) academics.
Socialising with grad students 
28th-Oct-2014 03:39 pm
Hi all,
I've just taken up a junior teaching post (Teaching Fellow, so below Lecturer/junior professor, but it's post-doctoral), and as part of my job I'm convening one module, which involves practical classes. The practical classes and assisted (and in some cases led) by PhD students. As course convener I was thinking of inviting them to my home at the end of term for pizza and beer/wine as a thank you for their work on the module. Is that creepy and weird, or a nice way to show appreciation? It's a reasonably informal department but there doesn't seem to be much socialising generally, so I'm not sure whether it would be seen as inappropriate or uncomfortable here.
28th-Oct-2014 03:57 pm (UTC)
Doesn't sound creepy at all to me, it sounds like a nice gesture.
28th-Oct-2014 04:40 pm (UTC)
I just attended a party with my research group at our PhD supervisor's house, celebrating the end of one of the postdocs as he goes off to greener pastures. It was awesome; everyone's very friendly, and some other departmental lecturers came and it was great to hang out in a less stressful environment.

I'd say it depends on the relationship you have with the PhD students, but in my own experience a PhD is so isolating and thankless that this kind of thing is usually extremely well-received.
28th-Oct-2014 05:13 pm (UTC)
That's totally fine. IME many professors organize social outings for their grad students every once in a while (a senior prof in my department will do dinner at a nice restaurant, for example).
28th-Oct-2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
My husband is a tenured faculty member at a state university, and he always likes to have his grad students and their families over at the end of the semester for dinner and wine/beer. They seem to really enjoy the gesture, and they eat like hyenas.
28th-Oct-2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
I agree with others here: this is a nice gesture to make. The studes may be esp glad if you tactfully arrange to pay for the more expensive items, while they can contribute affordable treats if they want to.

Another point that occurs to me is accessibility. For some studes, socialising has to fit around disability, kids and/or religion. I think it would be good to talk quietly with people in your new lab to find out what's appropriate. Oh yes, and if anybody's doing time-bound experiments (eg cell culture) they'll be glad of time to plan.

Edited at 2014-10-28 05:56 pm (UTC)
28th-Oct-2014 06:04 pm (UTC)
I was planning on getting in some beer and wine (Aldi have very nice stuff for very cheap!) and ordering in a couple of large pizzas, and maybe providing some veggie crudities and dip, so it won't cost them anything. My flat is ground floor, so it's fairly accessible, and it's psychology, so no-one will have cultures (or indeed animal subjects, in my dept.) to watch over. I'll bear in mind religious and dietary requirements!
28th-Oct-2014 05:56 pm (UTC)
I think it's nice and not creepy, and I've had professors invite me to similar things in the past. I think it will depend greatly on your campus and community culture. For example, it just isn't done at my current, urban college - but that's likely because no one has a home big enough anyway.
28th-Oct-2014 06:04 pm (UTC)
This will just be six or eight of them, I think, so they should all fit in my living room!
28th-Oct-2014 07:08 pm (UTC)
One more on the "that sounds very lovely, more academics should do this," wagon.
28th-Oct-2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
At all costs you must avoid treating graduate students as people. They will get the wrong idea
28th-Oct-2014 10:18 pm (UTC)
I don't think it would be weird. As both an undergrad and grad student, I was invited to professor's houses and those are bigger social and professional gaps. totally appropriate, imo.
29th-Oct-2014 03:55 am (UTC)
It's not common here, but some profs do it and grad students really appreciate the kindness are friendliness they show. :)
29th-Oct-2014 04:12 am (UTC)
Definitely a good thing!
(Deleted comment)
29th-Oct-2014 10:48 am (UTC)
Sounds nice to me. If you wanted to do something a bit less stressful or not bring people into 'your space', then you could take them to a restaurant instead and split the bill in some way that makes it still a treat from you to them (e.g., you pay food), but I suppose that'll be a lot more expensive however you do it. But I've had lecturers invite me to their houses as a Master's student, and it's fine. Indeed it was lovely. More of this kind of thing, as has been said.
29th-Oct-2014 10:53 am (UTC)
I figure I can do pizza and drinks fairly inexpensively (Aldi does nice booze on a budget, and pizza for 6-8 people isn't a huge expense) whereas, as you say, going to a restaurant will end up pricier all round. I also want to keep it quite informal, and I'm very happy to invite them to my place!
3rd-Nov-2014 07:27 pm (UTC)
Of course it's not creepy. In fact, it's probably more common than you think - it certainly used to be.
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