1. “By making graduate education untenable for all but the most affluent students…”

    Question: Why not, if the University drastically decides to take away tuition wavers, take out loans? There are several federal sources to do so: http://www.gradloans.com/

    I’m just a little confused as to why undergrads are fully capable of taking the initiative to apply for financial aid if needed (most of us don’t have the luxury of tuition waivers– we’re not even allowed to TA certain classes at all), but graduate students, who pay significantly less, don’t.

    Some of us undergrads have kids, work part time, have valuable skills, etc., and barely make by, so loans are a viable option. I’m sympathetic towards furloughs, but tuition is something that is simply universal at college.

    So, someone explain to me, why don’t you just take out loans?

  2. @jack m
    because most international grad students–a large portion of the grad sch population–cannot get loans, period.

  3. Why not just take out loans? Most grad TAs already do. The stipends they live on aren’t enough to cover anything but the most basic expenses, and sometimes not even then. Waivers for tuition are part of the package; losing the waivers means that, combined with the low stipends, even loans don’t provide enough to live on.

    And that’s only part of the story. Sure, grad students can and do live cheap. But in terms of equity, if TAs are teaching 3 or 4 sections a year and doing their coursework/research, they’re doing as much labor as full-time faculty–maybe more. So nixing their waivers means they’re getting paid only a tiny fraction for the same work.

  4. Under the new contract terms, stipends would increase, and tuition waivers would only be cut for TA’s who work under 33% of the time (less than 13 hours a week). Currently that threshold is set at 10 hours per week. It seems like a fair enough move to me.

    The members of GEO need to remember that they are students first and most of their assistantships are opportunities provided by the University in order to help them.

    In addition, I question the timing of the strike. Why now? Why after seven months of negotiations? Why after the bargaining period has expired? By waiting until now, they are putting their colleges in a tough position. Because it’s past the bargaining period, any workers who strike cannot be paid. It also forces TA’s to make the decision of doing their job and teaching their students, or going on strike with their peers. It’s unfair to the TA’s who do not want to go on strike and to the students who’s classes are canceled because of it. Also, why are they striking two days after the University submitted their last offer and the day before the GEO is set to vote on the offer? Striking today will not change the terms of the offer. If anything, wait until the GEO votes on the latest offer before you strike.

    Although I respect the GEO’s right to strike, I don’t agree with the timing of it. By choosing to strike in the fashion they’ve chosen, I feel that they are only losing respect and bargaining power with the University.

  5. Graduate students who teach or work for a college/university should not pay tuition, period. I currently give back my first month of pay to The City University of New York as tuition payments while I teach four classes at two different campuses. My tuition is around $900 a semester. We already are paid a pittance, and then those of us not on fellowships must fork over our pay to cover tuition. Robbery.

  6. A-

    I don’t know if you’ve been following closely or not, but one reason regarding timing is that the GEO never received a counter-offer until mere days before the contract ended in August- thus, they were in the dark for a majority of those seven months. Those seven months were not months of extensive bargaining between the GEO and the administration. In a way, the GEO was forced to act so late as a result of the lateness of the administration’s willingness to bargain.

  7. Jack M,

    Alien, Seth and Jess have already given answers to your question,”why don’t you just take out loans?” Allow me to clarify something further:

    The “you” in your question, who you imply do not have the “initiative” to “apply for financial aid,” would be graduate students in areas/departments NOT
    capable of securing adequate funding from outside the university–because they are not in departments with industry support to fund tuition and future employment oportunities, because they actually have to labor in areas not related to their own research in order to receive stipends, or because they are simply ineligible for loans (consider some one underprivileged, some minorities, or foreign grad students). Taking away the security of a tuition waiver would nullify any aid given to these students, and, by restricting entry to those who can pay to study, will reduce the diversity of affected departments. If the system is so structured that knowledge is to be the domain of the elite, universities should be prepared to give up the best and brightest of non-local minds they so covet.

    I suggest you talk to some of these graduate students to learn exactly why they are protesting. Many professors are also supporting this strike. You may want to find out why they think it’s worth it. This is not about short-term practicable tactics, but long-term goals for a university system in which many of the striking TAs and GAs seek to be employed in the future.[Quite akin to the debt-laden larger American system in need of an overhaul]. We need to secure the future, not just the present.

  8. Also, in response to the comment regarding loans… many, if not most, of us have indeed taken out large loans during our undergraduate careers. To add another seven or so years of loans that need to be paid back on top of those four undergrad years… that’s a considerable sum of money to pay back, and will certainly haunt future salaries for many, many years (especially since graduate school does not necessarily lead to the most lucrative of occupations). Tuition waivers make graduate school a viable possibility for countless numbers of students who would not otherwise have the opportunity.

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