The Graduate Student Council received updates on unionization and re-elected President Alastair Tulloch GS and Vice President of Advocacy D’Ondre Swails GS at its third general body meeting of the semester. The council also filled all other board positions and listened to grievance procedure revisions.
At the meeting, Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees members announced that the University and SUGSE reached an agreement to hold a unionization election starting Nov. 14 and ending Nov. 19, said Joe Skitka GS, a member of SUGSE. The University could not be reached to confirm the election dates by the time of publication. The University most recently communicated information regarding election dates Nov. 3, and stated that final dates had not been set.
“Graduate workers won a huge victory today when the University dropped its objections to our election petition and agreed absentee ballots be allowed for graduate workers living abroad,” wrote Kay Thompson GS in an email to SUGSE members. Polling locations will include the Salomon Center for Teaching, the Engineering Research Center, the School of Public Health and Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences, Thompson wrote. Absentee ballots will also be available for students who will be off campus during election time, Skitka added. The University could also not be reached in time to confirm the availability of absentee ballots.
The GSC will send out an email detailing election logistics through its listserv and will hold a second town hall on unionization for graduate students to “have space to discuss this,” Tulloch said.
When asked if forming a union would allow the American Federation of Teachers to bargain on behalf of students, Skitka said graduate students would be in control of bargaining with the University.
During the meeting, the GSC Executive Board also delivered updates on the grievance procedure on which graduate students gave feedback last month, The Herald previously reported. Faculty unanimously voted to pass revisions to the current grievance procedure, Tulloch said, adding that the revisions included documenting each step of the procedure and creating concrete deadlines for those steps. The Graduate School “incorporated a lot of our changes,” Tulloch added.
Though the new grievance procedure has not been circulated yet, there will be “announcements in the future” about the exact content, Tulloch said.
In response to graduate student housing concerns, the GSC has held conversations with Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes, the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Medical School Senate to look for short-term solutions, Tulloch said. In the meantime, the University has started a working group on graduate student housing, Tulloch added.
The GSC also recommended Whose Your Landlord — a website where users can write reviews about their landlords — as a resource for graduate students when they look for housing. The website helps indicate whether a potential landlord will “scam you or threaten you,” Chair of International Advocacy Sophie Brunau-Zaragoza GS said, though some graduate students expressed concerns that students who write reviews may be accused of slander by landlords.
Departmental representatives elected several graduate students to positions on the executive board such as Chair of Nominations, Chair of Master’s Advocacy, Chair of Social Events and Chair of Student Life. Six of the 10 board positions were filled by candidates who ran unopposed.