Takeaway: As many as 200 grads may lose funding before completing their degrees because their work was disrupted by the pandemic. Send a letter (if you haven’t already) to President Holloway and the Graduate Deans asking for guaranteed funding. Grad workers are planning a grade-in at Winants Hall on Monday, May 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here to RSVP if you’d like to participate or if you can come and show your support.
Many of you who participated in our letter-writing campaign about graduate student funding extensions received a response from President Holloway in the past few days. Unfortunately, he appears to be misinformed on several counts. We wanted to set the record straight about what President Holloway wrote:
- “We continue to engage with our chancellors and graduate school deans, who are coordinating with their campus deans, chairs, and graduate directors to review and discuss student needs on an individualized basis.” | We’ve said from the start that an “individualized approach” won’t work. Without a central administration program to protect all grads, some will fall through the cracks, and others will be forced to take inadequate funding options to have any support at all.
- “The centralized coordination of student funding that was offered recently was premised on the governmental funding you referenced, which is not continuing past June 30, 2022, and, therefore, similar funding of a program in the size and scope of what the University was able to accomplish during the height of the pandemic is not feasible.” | Even if all $365 million in federal and state pandemic assistance has been spent (and that’s not clear from the records Rutgers has divulged), this is hardly the only source of money that could be used to support grads. Rutgers has hundreds of millions of dollars in unrestricted reserves, and its endowment increased by half a billion dollars in just 18 months as of the end of last year. Rutgers has the money to extend funding for all grads who need it. Without a centralized commitment, the administration is choosing not to do so.
- “A representative from the Office of University Labor Relations (OULR) reached out to a union representative in a prompt manner to recount prior discussions on this issue as well as the current concerns.” | Our union raised this issue with the administration in mid-February, and we were told that additional funding would be handled by individual schools and programs. We surveyed graduate students and found many did not get a commitment of extended support. But we didn’t hear from OULR again until after grad students organized an action outside the April 12 Board of Governors meeting. We’ve been prepared to discuss solutions to this problem for months, and we heard nothing.
- “Our OULR team will continue to meet with the union as needed, and our academic leadership on each campus is reviewing campus-based support mechanisms to address areas of need as they arise.” | We haven’t heard back from OULR about whether they will meet with us now, but we’ve been told by a campus-based Graduate Dean—who President Holloway urged graduate students to contact if they are in need of funding—that they don’t have the resources to assure that every graduate student who needs additional support will get it. Where are grads supposed to turn?
As many as 200 graduate students are on the brink of losing their income and health insurance—and, for our international students, their visas. Rutgers can and should do better.
If the administration doesn’t respond with a centralized guarantee of funding extensions for any grad who needs it, we will hold a grade-in at Winants Hall on Monday, May 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A grade-in at Winants is an action we’ve taken before: graduate students will bring their grading and data entry work and get it done together, while sending another message to the administration. Click here to RSVP if you want to participate or can come and show your support.
Alex, Liana, and Sarah
Alexandra Adams, Vice President for Graduate Workers, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Liana Katz, Graduate Worker Steering Committee and Executive Council, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Sarah DeGiorgis, Graduate Worker Steering Committee and Executive Council, Rutgers AAUP-AFT