Meetings are the perennial bane of the knowledge worker, but it seems worse in my situation than it ever did before since, for me, the overhead of each meeting is so very, very high.
It is never appropriate to waste someone's time. Time is all we really have, and we have far too little of it - less than we usually think.
But when time in a meeting is purchased by several days away from family, friends, and work, this really begins to be more than a little frustrating. I estimate that no better than 1/3 of my meetings are actually worth my time. The other 2/3 are agenda-less and often stem from someone's insecurity over taking risks without involving a committee of people with whom to take the fall when things go wrong.
When the grad students are just that, it is already inexcusable to waste their precious time. When grad students are parents and spouses and employees, one has to question a system that assumes that an underling's time is pre-purchased.
The old system of a research university, built on the back of cheap graduate student labor, needs to be re-evaluated as the demographics shift to older, already-professional students. I wonder, cynically, if this is not one of the factors that makes traditional universities and graduate programs reluctant to embrace the older students who are attracted to distance-based advanced study. You can't waste the time of people who know the value of it so easily. They will rebel - and since they are also savvy consumers - this does not bode well for universities supported by tuition and tax-payers.