Monday, October 15, 2012

Who Are We?

This past Friday, the student newspaper published an open letter I researched and wrote with two fellow graduate students. We are asking the new chancellor, who just started her second year here, to change the atmosphere between the administration and the labor unions on campus. This University talks a lot about “inclusivity” and how “great” we are, but their policy stands toward graduate student employees suggest exclusivity, a desire to turn us into yet another source of revenue, and a short-sightedness that will hamper research and learning. In honor of this occasion, we have released the second doll in our line of student action figures.


NEW! Now you can purchase the Graduate Student as a card-carrying member of the Graduate Employees Union (IFT/AFT Local 6300 AFL/CIO). She wears a bright red t-shirt that declares “healthcare is a right” and boots for stomping on injustice. The pockets of her cargo pants are stuffed with a contract and her membership card. One arm is movable so she can raise her fist at rallies, and if you press the button on her back, she yells one of three slogans:

“The University works because we do!”
“No contract, no peace!”
And one slogan that you can record yourself! 

Doll comes with poster, pin, contract, and membership card. Real working toy megaphone and companion union members sold separately.


One of our union rally cries starts with the leader yelling, "Who are we?" The crowd answers, "GEO!" It's short and to the point, good for making noise outside the windows of administrators. But it is also a question that we see being asked and answered in the bargaining room. The administration seems to see "us" (the University) as a world-class institution...hobbled by the state's financial crisis. We see an institution that has successfully collected record private donations...and that refuses to pay a living wage for all graduate employees. (And that hires yet more administrators while threatening employees lower on the pyramid with furloughs.) This administration sees a homogeneous graduate student population (think: single, white, middle-class, male)...we see parents, international students, veterans, LGBTQ individuals, and an over-whelming majority of bright, dedicated individuals who would not be here without tuition waivers. We would be at other institutions, or we would not be in graduate school. This is an R1 research university that refuses to guarantee full tuition waivers, the standard practice at institutions of higher learning of this caliber. Without full tuition waivers, only the wealthy or the desperate will come here for graduate education anymore. Who are we?

1 comment:

Your comments let me know that I am not just releasing these thoughts into the Ether...