If you give a graduate student free beer, she might almost forget that she’s at a reception for that Bigwig Guest Lecturer her advisor “strongly encouraged” her to meet.

If she almost forgets that she’s at the reception, you can bet that she’ll start talking more candidly with the faculty present.

If she starts talking more candidly with faculty, she’ll probably begin to complain about feeling like a wage-slave (“something the other graduate students regularly convene to discuss, I might add, and have you heard about our upcoming bid for unionization?”).

If she starts to complain, this is almost assuredly the point at which Bigwig Guest Lecturer will join the circle.

If Bigwig Guest Lecturer joins the circle and hears the graduate student’s plaintive cry to be taken seriously (while, granted, a little tipsy) by her superiors, he’ll try to diffuse the situation with an anecdote about his own skint grad-school days (“oh, the antics I pulled!”).

If Bigwig Guest Lecturer continues to plod through his paternalist (but well intended, to be sure) face-saving plan, his anecdote will likely involve using a mix of charm, wit, and privilege to con people into giving him free things, or to rook female colleagues into typing his dissertation, washing his socks, grabbing coffee for him, or marrying him.

If this anecdote features any such misogynistic morsels, the graduate student will murmur to herself “but see, that’s part of the problem…” and begin to realize that no one is listening to her.

If she realizes that no one is listening to her, she will quietly gather her things and leave.

If she gathers her things and leaves, she’ll probably just walk straight home.

When she gets home, she’ll quickly realize she could really use another drink.

If the urge is strong enough (it is.), she’ll crack open some not-free beer, generously financed by her ample stipend package, well-calibrated to the cost of living in University Town or City X.

If she’s still in a crap mood after that exchange, she’ll call up her graduate student peers to complain about the sausagey state of the academy (by now, she’s drunk enough that the word “sausagey” will make her both giggle and feel very erudite).

Her graduate student colleague, Bob, meanwhile, is still at the reception.

If you give Bob free beer, he networks and gets business cards and back-pats and the faculty inwardly compliment his easygoing and fun presence, regarding him not just as a student, but as a friend.

… And, in fairness, Bob’s kinda cool.