This second year started a petition to help his supervisor get a permanent job at Cambridge
Dr Studebaker is currently a temporary teaching associate
Andrew Osipov, a second-year student at Homerton, has started a petition on change.org, encouraging the Council of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Cambridge to create a new faculty position at the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) for his supervisor. Osipov studies the politics track of HSPS (Human, Social and Political Sciences).
Dr Benjamin Studebaker completed his PhD in January, and is now only employed by Gonville and Caius as a teaching associate until the end of the year. His PhD focused on "legitimation problems economic inequality creates in rich, embedded democratic states".
The petition aims to enable Studebaker to apply for a role in his department as a teaching associate or other similar title. He would apply as normal, and the position would be open to other applicants also.
According to Osipov, who started the petition, Studebaker has supervised over 170 students whilst at Cambridge, dedicating over 300 hours just this academic year to teaching. Studebaker supervises a number of papers for students in all three years of undergraduate politics, mainly focusing on History of Political Thought.
He has also been recognised for his teaching ability, winning the Queens’ College Prize for Outstanding Contribution to College Teaching in 2018. He also had the best feedback out of all POL1 (a politics paper in first year) supervisors in 2018.
Dr Studebaker told The Tab Cambridge:
"It's so kind of my students to do this. Whatever happens in my life and career, I'll always have been grateful to have taught so many good people. It really warms my heart."
Give students structured choices about what to read. When you impose one text on everyone, it advantages those that vibe with it and creates resentment in the rest, expressed in small rebellions
— Benjamin Studebaker (@BMStudebaker) February 11, 2020
Osipov himself, in a quote to The Tab Cambridge, described Studebaker as someone who "sacrifices above and beyond to help his students do their best".
One quote on the change.org page reads: "[Studebaker's] willingness to help students in modules other than his own, is not only impressive, but admirable and reflects genuine concern".
Another wrote that "his clear personal enthusiasm… encouraged them to continue studying political theory in second year", and a further student commented: "I could not have hoped for a better supervisor".
In his statement to The Tab, Osipov also pointed out that Studebaker's situation is not unique. He said:
"My hope is that this petition will shed light on how younger, post-grad supervisors often have very short-term employment contracts (often just 1 year). They're exploited because unless they have more stable faculty positions, they're only paid an hourly rate per supervision – not the extra hours of marking and preparation that they do before."
Awareness of the poor treatment of postgraduate students has grown over the last couple of years, with one of the UCU (University and College Union) strike demands being anti-casualisation. The supervision system has been described as exploitative towards graduate students in a Guardian article by Cambridge UCU anti-casualisation officer.
The petition, which currently has 103 signatures, can be found here.