Written by: Nathan Tok
Illustrated by: Joy Tian
We all had that wonderful TA that saved the year for us. Remember when your lecture notes looked like gibberish to you until that TA turned it the right way around? Or how during chem lab, the TA looked the other way when you recovered 10 times more mass of the substance then what you originally started out with?
Good TAs are the heroes we lowly undergraduates do not deserve. But they’re also the heroes we need, because as anyone who’s done a “gatekeeper” class knows, sometimes the TA is the only thing standing between you and the shame you will bring to your parents. So in honour of their most valiant efforts to make sense of our half-assed 4 a.m. rambling papers, here is a meaningful gift basket you can get your TA to thank them.
A picture of the sun
Very handy in winter when your TA gets to campus before the sun rises and leaves after the sun sets. Have your TA hang the picture in their basement lab deep within the bowels of the AQ so they can remember what natural light looks like.
Help your grad student TA better understand their feelings about their thesis by giving them a thesis pillowcase. Filled with printed drafts of their work, they can abuse the pillow when feeling like an incompetent fraud and hug it when feeling like the most brilliant genius to have ever lived. As a bonus, they can then use that pillow to sleep in their office and/or lab so they can get more research done and make their supervisor happy.
Generate data button
Press to generate useful, relevant, and clean research data that proves your hypothesis to make your supervisor happy.
To bribe people into participating during tutorials.
Because SFU never has enough markers that work on the whiteboards and overheads in tutorial rooms.
Their supervisor’s child’s phone number
This is borderline stalking, but can you think of a better person for the grad student to voice their issues to? You would give your favourite TA a lobbyist towards their supervisor that cannot be ignored. Bonus if the kid is a university student as well who can better understand the pain.
Go Away shirt
You know how TAs have to answer the same question over and over to those students who don’t attend class or read stuff on Canvas? Questions like “When is the midterm?” “Which readings do we have to do?” or “How come the professor doesn’t know how to use YouTube?”
Help your TA deal with these questions by getting them a shirt that says “did you even go to lecture?” on one side and “check the syllabus” on the other side. That way, your TA can simply point to their shirt when students come in person with those type of questions.
Actually become a good student
Ironically, the best gift you can give your TA is to actually study and to do your work properly. This way, they can do their marking faster (since it’s easier to mark things correct rather than marking them wrong and then looking for partial marks), you get better grades, and everyone is happier. The only issue? This involves you actually becoming a better student and studying harder so it’ll probably never happen.