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The Ethics of Mooching
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The Ethics of Mooching

Dear Dora: The ethics of moochingDear Dora,

I go to a lot of seminars around campus that I have no interest in, many of which are outside of my department, simply to get food. Even though I sit through the talks, is there any ethical or karmic reason to stop doing this?

Mooch, grad student

Dear Mooch,

 

Your question brings back fond memories of stacks of pizza ready to be devoured by starving graduate students. I would really like to thank you for honesty, because I know that many graduate students go to their own department seminars and either leave after getting food, or do not pay attention to the talks. Are the seminars open to the department only or the whole campus? In the former case, it would not be ethically correct to go unless you could justify your presence to the organizers.  If they are open to everyone but outside your field, remember that department seminars are educational, and you can learn new ideas even if the topic is outside your expertise. Regarding the ethics of mooching, to clear your conscience I would recommend that you limit the seminars to ones where you would not be embarrassed if you encountered a friend or a professor who know you. Just think of the answers you would give to simple questions such as “Did you like the talk?” or “I thought you were in Biology. What are you doing at the American History Colloquium?” (Better cook up an answer to that one!)

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Dora Farkas, Ph.D. is the author “The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.:200 Secrets from 100 Graduates,” and the founder of PhDNet, an online community for graduate students and PhDs. You will find links to her book, monthly newsletters, and discussion board on her site. Send your questions to DearDora@benchfly.com and keep an eye out for them in an upcoming issue!

Stay tuned for the next Dear Dora in two weeks!  In the meantime, check a few of Dora’s recent posts:

 

Submit your questions to Dora at DearDora@benchfly.com, or use the comment box below!

 

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