As of today, 7 unions, 2 churches, 1 professional society, 16 campus organizations, and 54 professors, including several department heads, have issued public statements of support for the GEO.  The Undergraduate/Graduate Alliance, representing over a dozen Registered Student Organizations and hundreds of undergraduates, have also issued a public statement of support of the GEO and its decision to call a strike.  In this post, please find one of the more eloquent statements – from the representatives of the Undergraduate/Graduate Alliance.

We, the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance (U.G.A.), represent hundreds of undergraduate students in every academic unit, as well as dozens of Registered Student Organizations of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We stand in solidarity with the Graduate Employee Organization (G.E.O.), the 2,700 Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants it represents, and their struggle for a living wage and equitable working conditions.  We urge all our fellow undergraduate students to support the G.E.O. for the following reasons:

First, graduate students are the faces that we keep in touch with– graduate student labor comprises nearly one-fourth (23.1%) of our classroom experience.  This does not include the indispensable service they provide us through research, office hours, as mentors, and as members of the university community.

Second, an overworked (and underpaid) T.A. is a bad T.A.  Without an equitable contract graduate students will lack the institutional support needed to provide us with a quality education. Additionally our university will be unable to attract top quality graduate students.

Third, the unaffordability of graduate education threatens the integrity of our institution as a public entity.  We believe in a public and accessible university education as a fundamental human right.

The U.G.A. understands that grads and undergrads share a key feature in common – we are students.  As grads and undergrads we share the vision and the fight for equitable education.  Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are stronger when we learn, work, and fight together. For this reason we call upon our fellow undergraduate students to pursue the following actions in support of the G.E.O.:

Join us at upcoming rallies, and teach-ins

§   Tuesday, November 16th, 6 PM, YMCA:  U.G.A. Teach-In.  Come, get informed, get involved, and be heard.

  • Have conversations with friends, family, Professors, acquaintances—anyone who lends an ear.
  • Write letters and make phone calls  tell our University administrators how you feel as a member of this school community. (Interim Provost/Chancellor Robert Easter,, (217) 244-4545)
  • Tell your friends and family to write letters, they, too, have vested interests in this University- educational justice concerns us all.
  • In the event of a strike-

§  Avoid crossing picket lines.  If your class is being held in a building being picketed contact your Professor and ask them to move the class (contact the Campus Faculty Association to help you and your Professor find a new location).

§   Join us in saying “NO!” to discussions being taught by replacement workers (individuals brought on to undermine the strike and our Teaching Assistants as they fight for a living wage).

Adopted by the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance on Tuesday, November 10, 2009


  1. I am pleased to learn of the show of support by “7 unions, 2 churches, 1 professional society, 16 campus organizations, and 54 professors.” You specifically acknowledge and post responses from two of these, which I appreciate, but note that all of the supporters have made “public statements.” Given this, might you let us know who these supporters are? It would be great to know of those who join the cause in solidarity. Thanks.

  2. As the advisor of the Sociology Club of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, I strongly support the current strike for workplace justice and the courageous strikers who are defending quality higher education not only at the University of Illinois but throughout the United States. It is time for the longstanding discriminatory and exploitative treatment of graduate student employees at the University of Illinois and everywhere else to finally end and never return. Quality labor deserves quality wages and benefits, not slave wages and serf treatment. This strike for justice resonates on campuses throughout America and beyond with the words of the prophet: Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everlasting stream!

Comments are closed.