I first heard of this term in my Introduction to Sociology class back in my undergraduate days. It basically means “survival of the fittest” in the social setting. And now that I am in graduate school, I see it all the time.
Basically, excellent people excel even more, and not-so-excellent people are dropped to the sidelines.
From the start of my graduate career, there exists Social Darwinism. The fellowships are decided on your performance, your GRE scores, your application statement, and your recommendations. How much you receive is also based on these data. Those who have a good background get the award, while those who are not so good do not get it.
Advisers also select prospective students based on their performance. If a student has a concrete research agenda, the adviser is more likely to allow the student to work with him or her. On the other hand, if the student is not too good, the adviser may have second thoughts on whether he or she will supervise the student.
Everything is decided on whether you are socially fit, whether you are able to survive the academe. Everything such as grant proposals, funding requests, applications for summer teaching, scholarships, and the like.
I am not saying that I am against these processes. After all, what the institution wants is academic excellence. So naturally, the best ones are the ones that get selected. This is just a fact of life. Survival of the fittest. The fit ones stay.
But everything goes bleak if the person who cannot survive is your friend.
A friend of mine seems to be looking at the prospective of leaving next semester, because the source of funding seems to be cut off, due to not-so-good performance.
Before I go, let me post the third of my South Campus Series. This is a big building in South Campus, again. This houses the Medical School. I haven’t been inside, apparently, it is off-access to non-students.