Trinity Professor comes under fire for views on employment status of postgraduate researchers

Professor Brian Lucey claimed in tweet that “a hungry hunter is the best hunter” in regard to PhD stipends

Trinity Professor of Finance Brian Lucey has come under fire for a tweet in which he stated that “postgraduate students aren’t employees” and warned against increasing stipends for PhD researchers.

Lucey said in the Tweet: “I worry about stipends that are overly generous because in my view a hungry hunter is the best hunter.”

The tweet was met with significant backlash from hundreds of Twitter users, who countered that people “are more productive when they are well-fed, sheltered, and don’t have to worry about whether they will pay the bills”.

Others applied Lucey’s logic to his own position, saying that “the university should cut your pay in half so that they can get more productivity out of you”.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy quote tweeted Lucey, commenting“a hungry finance professor is the best finance professor”.

The Postgraduate Workers Organisation (PWO) also responded to the tweet. Addressing College and the Provost, they said: “Is this the care from the university that would be lost by PGRs [postgraduates] being employees and the “special” supervisor-student relationship? A PI [Principal Investigator] who mocks about the hungry hunter when going hungry is a risk PGRs face due to the cost of living?”

A Trinity PhD chemistry student also responded to the tweet, expressing concern to Provost Linda Doyle, likened Professor Lucey’s comments to the language of “18th century slave traders”.

“It is deeply concerning to me that a TCD Full Professor’s attitude to the treatment of PhD researchers is not dissimilar to the language employed by 18th century slave traders in the Caribbean. Is this acceptable for Full Professors at Trinity College Dublin?”

Lucey’s comments followed up a previous tweet in which he said that postgraduate students’ unions “really have not taught [sic] this through”, in response to revelations that PhD stipends should not technically be exempt from tax.

“They get so amazingly irritated when you point out of the [sic] complexities to them…It’s almost like the intersection of tax and employment is complicated,” he added.

Lucey declined to comment to Trinity News as he was out of office.

Faye Madden

Faye Madden is an Assistant News Editor for the 69th volume of Trinity News.