GEO Visa and Immigration Leave Survey

GEO Visa and Immigration Leave Survey


Are you an:
International Student
Domestic Student with immigrant/international dependents
DACA student?

Have you had any trouble with your visa, immigration, or DACA paperwork during your time at UIUC?

Then please fill out this survey! Please take by March 6th, 2017!

Here is the survey link (If you received an individual link via email, please fill that one out):


This semester the GEO will bargain a new contract with the University. In the contract proposal, GEO is working to address the needs of International and DACA employees on our campus. To bargain effectively, the GEO needs feedback from International, DACA, and Domestic students with international or DACA dependents to gain a better sense of their experiences and priorities at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The Bargaining Team will be crafting contract language proposals to address visa and immigration issues and they need to hear from you concerning immigration issues such as visa paperwork, delays in DACA renewal, receiving a Social Security Number, and many others.
The GEO does not share the answers you give in this survey outside of card-signed membership.


Tax Workshop 2017

Join us to learn how to navigate state, federal, and multistate taxes, presented by Nick Vogel, a certified public accountant. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions. This event is made possible by the International Student Working Group and Graduate Employees’ Organization.
Coffee and snacks provided.


Location: La Casa Cultural Latina (1203 W Nevada St, Urbana, IL)
Date: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 2:00-4:00pm


Sanctuary of the People: Open Call for Action

UIUC Sanctuary of the People Poster

Sanctuary of the People UIUC invites all students, faculty, staff, and Champaign-Urbana community members to an open meeting regarding the sanctuary movement in our local community. What is sanctuary? How can we use sanctuary as means to create horizontal organizing networks to defend ourselves and our communities? How can you get involved? Join us to plan and organize together!
The event is Thursday, February 16, from 4-6 PM. The location is the Asian American Cultural Center, UIUC (1210 West Nevada Street, Urbana, IL 61801).
Link to the Facebook event page:
Come out and show your solidarity!

Resources for Information on Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

Here are some resources from GEO’s info session with immigration attorney Lauren Anaya.


Resources for Information on the Trump Executive Order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries


1. Legal Background:

Presidential Executive Orders:

UIUC College of Law panel discussion 2/2/17:

2. General Sources:

UIUC information page regarding the order:

Office of the Provost, FAQ, Immigration Order of 1-27-17:

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):


3. What you can do:

Understanding your rights:

American Immigration Council (AIC) “Know your Rights” refresher:

UIPD clarifies role in immigration enforcement:


GEO Election Results and Announcements

Hello Members,

We hope that all is well with you. Last Wednesday, at the first General Membership Meeting of the year, you voted on GEO committee chairs and the results are in! Congratulations to our newly-elected Grievance Chair Amanda Yuile and our newly-elected Communications Chair Maria Garth!

GEO Community & Campus Events:

Expanding Public Colleges in the Trump Era

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 7th
Time: 5 pm
Location: Lincoln Hall, Room 1002.

Today, academic leaders will be tempted to double down on the private good definition of universities under a president who reveres private wealth and transactional business relationships. This talk argues that this will further reduce the university’s stature in the eyes of both the Trump administration and the public. In contrast, restoring the university’s broad public impact will fix its public reputation and reenergize its students and personnel. This lecture extends the argument of Newfield’s The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

There is also a Coffee Hour before the event with Chris Newfield Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 11 – 12:30 at the NTFC Office in the 2nd floor of the McKinley Foundation (809 S. 5th St., Champaign).

Executive Order Info Session for graduate students with immigration attorney Lauren Anaya

Tuesday, February 7, at 7:00pm
Latina/Latino Studies Conference Room (1207 West Oregon Street, Urbana)

Lauren will be talking about what an EO is and will explain the legal framework and proceedings for the current ban. She will also be available to answer questions.

In Solidarity,

Graduate Employees’ Organization

Executive Order Info Session With Immigration Attorney

The GEO is hosting an Executive Order Info Session for graduate students with immigration attorney Lauren Anaya

Tuesday, February 7, at 7:00pm

Latina/Latino Studies Conference Room (1207 West Oregon Street, Urbana)

Lauren will be talking about what an EO is and explain a little bit of the legal framework and proceedings for the current ban. She will also be available to answer questions.

Statement in Response to Presidential Election

November 14, 2016

GEO at UIUC Statement in Response to Presidential Election

Last Tuesday, we witnessed the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump’s presidential campaign was built on homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, racist, sexist, and xenophobic language. The condoning of such hate by election is an active threat to civil rights and civil liberties for all. We, the Graduate Employees’ Organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are outraged at the election of a leader who has openly campaigned against the livelihoods and safety of their own constituents.

We, the GEO-UIUC, have fought and continue to fight for affordable child care, accessible health care, gender justice, job training, living wages, protecting employees from retaliation, reasonable workloads, tuition waivers, and workplace safety for all graduate employees regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, sexual orientation, citizenship status, department, job category, or membership in the union. We, the GEO-UIUC, strive to be an inclusive and open environment that acts in the best interests of graduate employees, and act responsibly toward the entire university community.

Most importantly, to support all graduate employees so that they can work with dignity and respect, the GEO-UIUC has fought and continues to fight for a good work environment for all. We recognize that a work environment free from hostility and discrimination is a necessary prerequisite not only for improving the quality of education and research at UIUC, but also ensuring the livelihoods and safety of all graduate employees that directly contribute to this mission.

We, the GEO-UIUC, stand in direct opposition to the hate, fear, open hostility, and violence that has been targeted at Black, Disabled, Latinx, Immigrant, International, LGBTQIA+, Muslim, Native American, Neurodiverse, Undocumented, and Women-identified peoples. We, the GEO-UIUC, stand with all peoples of these communities, as members, allies and advocates living, loving, and working in solidarity.

We, the GEO-UIUC, will continue to fight for all graduate employees’ civil rights and civil liberties to ensure a good work environment free from hostility and discrimination. It is not enough to circulate a mass-mail with truisms such as “we are a community defined by how we treat one another and by our willingness to focus on how we move forward together.” The UIUC administration needs to take action and publicly condemn acts of violence and intimidation against their constituents.

We will not back down. We will not be silent. We’ve got your backs. Every single one.

In solidarity,

One GEO member’s reasons to fight for tuition waivers

From Alia Bellwood, a PhD student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Communication and GEO Officer-at-Large, on why she joined her union and fights for tuition waivers.

My youngest brother and I chatted last week about aspiring to teach and study in academia. Behind our conversation, something rang in my ears.

I have an offer from my department which ensures that my good standing and progress will be met with employment in school and tuition waiver for 5 years. I could throw up my hands and say “well, fighting for waivers doesn’t effect me!” But it does.

I want to be able to tell my siblings and niece and nephews that graduate school is feasible for our family. I want to show them that graduate students and their work is valued and respected. We are colleagues not revenue sources. I want to say UIUC was a good place to learn and work.

I can’t do that confidently if I don’t push against the trend of charging and overworking grads. What kind of sister and aunt would I be if I advised them into sinkholes of debt they may never get out of?

I chose to push back. I chose to meaningfully support the labor union GEOmy colleagues and I are lucky to have. I fight for tuition waiver protection, healthcare, a livable wage and decent working conditions because this effects the people I love.

It’s about more than me and my current contract.

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April 1st Work-in/Teach-in: “Tuition Waivers Matter!”

Throughout our union’s history, GEO members have consistently fought to protect tuition waivers in the face of repeated attempts by UIUC to diminish them. Tuition waivers are a benefit of employment for graduate employees. Tuition waivers keep graduate and undergraduate education high quality. If only those students who could afford graduate school could attend graduate school, then more qualified candidates might take better offers from other institutions. This impacts the quality of graduate student research, the quality of graduate student courses, and the quality of undergraduate courses taught by graduate students.
Over 1,000 GEO members went on strike on November 16-17, 2009 to win tuition waiver protection in our collective bargaining agreement. Almost immediately (January, 2010) the University took away tuition waivers from incoming graduate employees in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
In 2011, the GEO won an arbitration regarding changes in tuition waiver policy in Fine and Applied Arts; the arbitrator agreed that the University could not change tuition waivers for graduate employees already at the University. The University owed the FAA students the tuition they had paid. However, the University refused to comply with the arbitrator’s decision until the GEO threatened to strike in 2012. In early 2013, University finally paid FAA graduate students nearly half a millions dollars for tuition they were forced to pay.
TAs and GAs across campus work to make UIUC great! Graduate students cannot be made a source of revenue.
TAs & GAs across campus make UIUC great! The University works because we do!
In 2013, Masters in Computer Science (MCS) students and MA students in Statistics were informed that they could not hold waiver-generating appointments. The two departments agreed to reverse their stance on assistantships after meeting with GEO.
In 2014, incoming MCS students were informed that the Computer Science department would not allow them to hold assistantships in CS and would seek a cash sum as tuition reimbursement for all MCS students who received waiver-generating appointments outside of CS. As a result of this policy change, most MCS students were hired as hourly employees. Hourly employees do the same work as Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants, but are not awarded tuition waivers. We went to arbitration in August 2015. On January 26, 2016, the GEO was notified of the arbitrator’s decision. An arbitration is a legally binding decision. In this case, it is possible that affected students could be paid back their tuition by the University. The arbitrator ordered the University and GEO to meet to determine the remedy.
The GEO has been attempting to contact the University’s lawyer, Craig Hoefer, multiple times to schedule a meeting with the University to determine the remedy for the MCS arbitration, as ordered by the arbitrator. FinallyThe GEO and the administration will be meeting on April 1 at 10 am in the Henry Administration Building. We need to show the University that grad students aren’t willing to compromise on tuition waivers. The reimbursable policy threatens grad student employment because a grad student’s home department can ask a graduate student’s employing department to pay their tuition. The arbitrator ruled in our favor in January, stating, “The MCS action upsets the full panoply of assumptions that underlie the University framework of support for graduate students. It reduces the value of the tuition waiver, when it imposes the costs of the tuition waiver on the employing unit, the unit granting the assistantship. The tuition waiver is transformed from the primary form of compensation to a competitive disqualifying cost.” (p. 27). According to the Grad College Handbook, nearly every department is classified such that they can ask for reimbursement; the reimbursement practice is a threat to graduate employment across campus. It must be stopped. 
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!

We need to remind the University that “the University works because we do,” and we need tuition waivers to work. Show up to work or teach in front of the Henry Administration on the Quad side whenever you can between 8:30 and 11am. GEO will have tables and chairs set up, as well as blankets. Coffee will be provided.
We need your help. If you can, attend RSVP to the event on Facebook or email GEO.
The University works because we do.

FAQ: What is an arbitration?

As you may have heard, the GEO is holding a rally and asking for signatures on petition in an effort to get the University to meet with us to determine the remedy on a recent arbitration decision.
You may be asking yourself, “What is an arbitration?” “Do they have to comply?” “Can they just take their time?”
Let’s begin by discussing what an arbitration is. The arbitration is the final stage of the grievance process, as described in Article XVIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the GEO and the University. In 2014, students in the Masters of Computer Science (MCS) program made the GEO aware that their department was asking departments that employed them to pay their tuition. GEO grieved this as a violation of the tuition waiver side letter attached to the CBA. The University denied the grievance at every level, thus the grievance remained unresolved. The GEO chose to arbitrate because of the importance of tuition waivers to members of the GEO.
MCS students standing strong
MCS students standing strong
When the GEO goes to arbitration, the GEO’s and the University’s lawyers must choose an arbitrator. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) or the American Arbitration Association (AAA) submits 5 possible arbitrators who are members of the National Academy of Arbitrators. The GEO’s and University’s lawyers each eliminate 2 arbitrators; the remaining arbitrator will serve as arbitrator. The University, the GEO, and the arbitrator then select a date and location for the arbitration; in the case of the MCS arbitration, the arbitration was held in August 2015, a year after the initial grievance was filed, at the iHotel.
In the arbitration, the arbitrator essentially serves as the judge. The lawyers make oral arguments during the arbitration. The arbitrator asks clarifying questions of the lawyers and any witnesses brought forth. The GEO and the University also provide evidence for the arbitrator to consider when making the decision. After the oral arguments, the lawyers submit written briefs stating their case to the arbitrator; the University’s lawyers delayed in submitting the brief and did not submit it until mid-November 2015. After receiving both briefs, the arbitrator determines which party wins and any remedies. An arbitration decision is a legally-binding decision, meaning that the University must comply with it.
In the case of the MCS arbitration, the arbitrator determined on January 26, 2016, that the GEO had won. The arbitrator did not determine the remedy, but instructed the GEO and the University to meet to determine the remedy. That meeting is happening Wednesday, April 1st and we want members and the community to show up outside of Henry Administration building to demonstrate just how much this meeting means to us!
A previous arbitration decision determined that Fine and Applied Arts students were owed money for tuition paid. After that arbitration, the University waited years to comply with the remedy. The remedy was only met when the GEO agreed to sign the CBA in 2012. We cannot let that happen again.
The University works because we do.
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!