This is exciting -- we're having a conversation! I just want to affirm that I did not mean to imply that Dr. Crazy said that grad school was academic hazing. That's something that a couple of us started discussing in the comments.
Dr. Crazy today posted a clarification of her views. And I want to speak back to them because I'm all excited about this conversation. (Isn't this what is so exciting about the internet?!!!) I totally agree with Dr. Crazy that the transition from "good student" to independent thinker and scholar is a big and difficult transformation. Like her, I don't really think that it's possible to go through such a transformation without pain and discomfort.
What I do think is a problem is that, at least in my institution, graduate students feel that they get mixed messages. One message is "become an independent thinker." But the other is to submit to processes that are opaque and trust that faculty are making the best decisions for us, often without our voices and behind closed doors. Decisions about graduate student funding are made behind closed doors at my institution, for example. Some choices about which students get special positions are made in seemingly prejudicial ways. (It looks a lot like certain professors playing favorites. If it's not, it would really help grad student morale to know that.) Grad students are mystified by many of the processes that determine our lives. All I would want is some transparency and dialogue. I've known many students over the years who "don't want to make waves, because these are the people who write our recommendations," a view I totally don't agree with. Faculty are not to be blamed here; if grad students do not explain how processes seem opaque, then faculty are just not going to know what the sources of the grad student climate are.
I want to go on record here and say that I don't think that faculty members are trying to make grad students' lives harder. In fact, my department has been blessed with a number of faculty members who are very interested in grad students' opinions, if we will only give ours to them. Many grad students don't take up that agency -- and for that I don't know what to say. Maybe that's a part of that "good student" syndrome. What I fear is that some students, at least, leave my institution still trying to anticipate what will please others; I don't think that this is what becoming a professional is all about.
I will say also that many of my colleagues would tell you that not all faculty members are interested in listening to grad students' concerns. People have said to me that if we "complain," the faculty don't feel they need to address our concerns because they know that sooner or later we will leave. They just wait us out. I don't know that I think this is fair, at least of the faculty I've worked with. But I will say that there have been times that I have definitely gotten mixed messages: be an independent thinker, but don't use your analytical powers on this department. I can understand that it might seem more difficult for faculty members to have a bunch of grad students around who all wanted to make change. But I think learning how to be a productive member of a department is one of the things that the faculty should help us do. If they keep us out of that side of things, then we're missing an important part of our professionalization: service.