UMass, please pay me.

2 minute read


Update: On October 19, 2018, UMass finally paid me! Hurray! Eyeing those fancy calligraphy sets to celebrate the richness!

Some of you might have heard me complain already, I have not been paid at all this semester. The semester started on September 4th, 2018. So, it has been one month and 2 weeks since the semester started. I am not on the payroll and my tuition is unpaid. As a result, I have been charged a $100 late fee and my registration for the upcoming semester is on hold until the dues are cleared.

This makes me feel terrible because I thought I was fortunate to be selected for the Google PhD Fellowship this year. This means that Google is generously paying my tuition and stipend. Google sent this money to UMass’s accounts over two months back. My advisor even emailed UMass staff to pay me out of her own grants if the Google money was taking time to materialize (which it wasn’t, Google sent the funds promptly in August 2018). But, nothing got worked out. Tens of email threads discussing what can be done have culminated in disappointed silence from my end.

Thankfully, I saved during my last internship at Microsoft Research. I have been dipping into these savings to pay rent, buy food, and generally survive. But, I do not think this is okay. It is unfair to not pay someone for 6 weeks. It is a poor reward for graduate research work, negative reinforcement for getting a fellowship. I had hoped there were some checks in place to prevent things like this from happening. I had hoped someone had cycles to see that the graduate students who usually make barely enough money to live modestly, get their paychecks. I am sure there are reasons why this has taken so long, I am sure people were too busy to be bothered, I am sure the delays were unavoidable, but, surely, someone could have anticipated this long a delay?

As I voiced my complaint to my lab mates, my friend suggested approaching this with a different attitude, summarized in this movie clip:

Pay me

The title of this post could almost be something unkind, inspired from this movie, which I must watch.