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How the UMD CompSci Department Should Revise Their TA Manual

We’re all hip to the computer science TA manual fiasco, right? Well for those that didn’t Google “UMD” in the past two weeks, here’s a quick recap.

The CS department’s TA manual caused controversy when it told female TAs things like other students “may experience some difficulty accepting [them] fully in a scientific field.” And if this makes you die a little in the inside that this was actually put in a TA manual, well, don’t worry. Whoever wrote it offered a silver lining at the end, stating that it’s “the kind of practice [they’re] going to need at some time in the future.”

Great, don’t worry, don’t consider it blatant sexism, think of it more like ‘job training.’ Also, it’s kind of eerily depressing that the handbook also implies that this kind of behavior is gonna be present in the future, it’s a very glass half empty perspective.

The male section on the handbook is written with a drastically different perspective. The handbook tells male TAs that while they will experience their authority being challenged, “but on the whole it’ll be to a lesser extent” than their female counterparts.

Now if you have a coding project due at 8:01 p.m. and you’re refusing help from a TA because of their gender, then maybe you don’t necessarily deserve to pass.

And if they at all same incompetent, why assume that it’s because of their gender? Most people are incompetent.

A source tells The Black Sheep that many male TAs, whose literal job asks them to know the insides and outs of their class’s projects, straight up say “yeah, I don’t know anything about the project” to their students. Thanks, douchebag.

The most controversial part of the manual stated that “a few female students may attempt to capitalize on the male-female dynamic to their own advantage.” That’s kinda fucked up when you think about it. They’re attributing using flirtatious behavior to curb favor exclusively to girls.

While The Black Sheep‘s source has never seen this behavior from any student of any gender, they said, “If this is happening, there’s no way dudes aren’t flirting to help their grade. When you have a 69.87%, you’re gonna do what you gotta do.”

A quick google search of “UMD CS TA handbook” reveals that the handbook is still “under construction”. No, seriously. That’s what it says on the website. Everything is under fucking construction at this school.

The Black Sheep has a solution: have a woman write it. While it’s bad to assume things, we think it’s safe to assume that the handbook was written by a guy.

Have a woman write it, heck, have a ton of people write it. Because looking past the sexist language (which you shouldn’t), it’s obvious that not a lot of foresight was used when writing the TA manual.

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