Care of Peers

You’ll spend a great deal of time in this building during your tenure as a grad student. Fortunately, you’ll not be alone. To keep everyone from hating you, here is a list of guidelines for how to treat your peers.

    • If someone has their office door closed, leave them alone. If the issue at hand is urgent, knock before entering. Being bored is not an urgent issue.
    • Before you start running any intensive code, such as N-body, on the same server as someone else, check with them to ensure you aren’t going to use their processors. As a corollary, don’t run code on all the good computers at once. Let other people have their fun.
    • Be aware noise can travel very far in the building.
    • Everybody has work to do. Keep this in mind and keep visits short.
    • Be aware that when you visit a comrade in their office, you are interrupting not just their work, but the work of everyone in the office.
    • If someone is working with their advisor, do not bother them.
    • If you wish to play a prank on someone, keep it harmless. People quickly become irritated if the prank hampers their ability to do work or if they happen too often. There is a fine line between being a prankster and being annoying. Don’t cross it.
    • Most people are online with some sort of chat program, usually Gchat. This is the best way to talk to a comrade without bothering their office mates.
    • It’s important for us to get out of our offices once in awhile and talk to the other grad students. This builds social skills and enhances inter-office relations. Remember you are stuck with these people for the next 3-7 years, it is important to get to know them. Just don’t forget that in the end this is a place of work.
    • When moving offices, keep seniority in mind. Older students get priority. When planning a move, talk to the other residents of the office. They hold some sort of veto power to avoid personality conflicts.
    • Respect other people’s right to a peaceful work environment.
    • If you have a problem with another person, talk to them privately about it. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
    • If you have an upstairs office, don’t start jump-roping. Your footsteps carry well through the lower offices.
    • Celebration dinners, such as for thesis proposals or thesis defenses, are all but mandatory. If you don’t go, have a very good reason.
    • When you get an e-mail from astroall, you should almost never reply to it. Valid replies should be either very important or very hilarious. These are rare cases.
    • Classes are the last chance for you to learn necessary information you won’t get anywhere else, ever again in your career. Please be respectful of others. Bring note-taking materials, have your cell phone on quite, and respect the faculty’s time as well.
    • Don’t blow off the homework. Turn it in on time with everyone else with significant effort put into it. The faculty are flexible and lenient. Do not abuse this.
    • Your grade in the class may not matter, but your behavior does.

Tips for Success

Here you will find general advice on how to have a successful graduate student career.

    • Go to AGSO. Even if you are an upper year and think nothing there is important to you. Go anyways. There are announcements there that are important for everyone.
    • Go to the round table after colloquium. It reflects badly on the department when only a few people show up and only one person asked questions.
    • Sign up for outreach. If you don’t, a few people end up doing all the work.
    • Figure out how to use the observatory telescopes. You’ll need it for outreach.
    • Learn the names and locations of several bright stars in the sky for each season. You’ll need it to align the telescopes.
    • If the server is being slow, don’t restart your computer. Restarting will greatly delay how long before you can get back to work. Just wait until the server gets fixed. Reading papers is a good way to fill the computer-less time.
    • Apply for space grant. It is an easy application and you can win it twice during your career. Keep in mind that the money belongs to you. Neither the department now your advisor have the final say in how you spend it.
    • Keep in mind the cluster here is old (5+ years). Many people have had great success buying a nice laptop, installing their favorite Linux distribution, and working off that.
    • Along the same lines as the previous point, backup your data daily! Hard drives have a nasty habit of up and dying without warning. The cluster is backed up regularly, but not all parts are backed up at the same time. Some parts aren’t backed up at all. In short, if you have important data that you absolutely cannot lose, get an external hard drive and back up onto that in addition to everywhere else.
    • We have a strong grad student community here. To maintain the community, you need to attend oral/proposal/defense dinners and cume lunches/parties. If you don’t go, you better have a good reason.
    • Do your best to stay sane. Go outside, cultivate at least one outside interest, and don’t forget to eat (real food, not ramen and fast food). Stay safe with sunscreen!
    • Go to colloquium and pizza lunch!
    • If you are an upper year and see and first year working hard, do not discourage them or suggest they slack off. Encourage them!
    • If you are a first year and an upper year tells you to not worry and to slack off ignore them!
    • Working from home is okay. Just make sure to clear it with your advisor.
    • First year advisors are not set in stone. Feel free to change them and don’t worry about hurting feelings.
    • In general people need to remember that we’re just human. Forgive and forget. Be kind. Give others a break. Help out when you can.
    • The kitchen sink does not have a garbage disposal. If you shove large chunks of food down the drain, the office staff end up cleaning it up. Don’t do this.
    • Please clean up after yourself. The janitors don’t clean tables or the kitchen and rarely vacuum. The crumbs you brush onto the floor will stay there a long time. And that’s how you get bugs.
    • There are a large number of bugs around here. During the summer night, the roaches roam. Clean up after yourself and don’t give them a reason to bother you. And keep in mind they are completely harmless. They don’t bite and don’t transmit diseases.
    • If you are a coffee drinker, there are several sources available to you.
      • If you want to purchase your coffee, campus sources are: Einstein Bagels in Corbett, TCBY in Frenger, and Starbucks in Barnes & Noble.
      • There is a coffee maker in the kitchen. Feel free to use it.
      • Anatoly has an espresso machine upstairs. If you want to use this, ask for instructions first as a replacement will run about $400-600.
    • If you are the last person to leave at night, turn off the lights.
    • If you notice any problems in the office, tell someone. The office staff are awesome and super friendly. Let them know if a door is broken and they’ll see that it gets fixed.