The University of Maryland GSG passed resolutions in support of gathering information on graduate workers’ rights violations during its second assembly session of the year Sept. 16.
The resolution, authored by Lizzie Irlbacher “supports gathering information about workers’ rights abuses and violations that are occurring to graduate students.” The goal of gathering the data is to understand the extent and types of abuses graduate assistants face while also recording and documenting them.
“We’re not classified as employees. It leaves us in a very confusing gray space,” Irlbacher, a political science doctoral student and the Graduate Student Government’s legislative affairs vice president, said.
According to the resolution, there is no written documentation of workers’ rights violations because complaints get passed around various offices through word of mouth alone. Because of that, there is no way to track changes in the abuses against graduate workers.
The body also unanimously passed a resolution written by GSG President Joey Haavik that calls on the GSG to continue survey research initiated by the last assembly to increase transparency surrounding student fees and understand their impact on graduate students.
Currently, part-time graduate students pay $312.50 per semester and full-time graduate students pay $605 per semester in student fees.
Annie Rappeport, a former member of the student fee review committee, said the survey work allows GSG leaders to speak accurately to the graduate student body and gives them credibility and influence when they make arguments regarding the required fees.
“It helps us to see and get a pulse of where people are, what they’re feeling and the impact financial stressors have in graduate student life,” Rappeport, an international education policy doctoral student, said.
Although these resolutions don’t equate to actionable items, Haavik said they are important in bringing graduate student concerns to the university administration’s attention, especially during the GSG’s quarterly meetings with university President Darryll Pines.
“It’s the time where we get to have the ears of all the different departments that are charging the fees, as well as senior administrators and the president of the university, to bring up why financial stress is so common among graduate students,” Rappeport said.