September 21, 2010

So professional

Remember student council elections in elementary school and middle school? The council didn't have any actual power, but the candidates still had to come up with a "platform" so it wouldn't look like the meaningless popularity contest that it was. They knew they had no hope of implementing what students really wanted (less homework, fewer rules, longer recess). So when I was in school, every candidate came up with the same proposal: Vending machines!

Every year, the impotent council promised to advocate for vending machines... and we never got them... until we did, many years later, when the school struck a lucrative deal with a soda company.

The graduate student council at my university reminds me of those days. The candidates can't give us what we really want (more money, less work) so every year, they promise to work on the important issue of grad student business cards. They have been working on the business card issue for as long as I've been here (four years and counting), and this week, it finally happened. ABD graduate students are getting free business cards.

I couldn't wait to design my new cards. I would use a small photo of my cat, and a few lines of poetry, typed in a tasteful pink font. My name and e-mail would be in a different shade of pink... with hearts dotting the i's... oh, and a butterfly graphic. No, a cupcake.

Then I saw the bottom of the e-mail. Oh. The university designed the cards for us. And they don't have any photos or graphics or anything. Small print, boring official font. No. fun. at. all.

I don't understand why I can't make my own design, especially since the cards will not be used for professional purposes. In my four years as a graduate student, I have been asked for a business card zero times. I have, however, encountered numerous fishbowls at sandwich shops where you can deposit a business card to enter a contest for free food. Since this will be the primary function of my business cards, I don't understand why I can't make them pretty.

I mean, I know I could pay for my own business cards and design them however I want... but, we know I'm not going to spend actual money on this ever.


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