Graduate students protest on quad, march to administrative offices

By Shawn Adderly

A crowd of about 700 striking graduate students assembled on the Quad at 7:45 am, according to the GEO, as members of the Graduate Student Employees’ Organization protested the University’s position on tuition waivers.

At 3:30 p.m. between 400 and 500 protesters marched to the Swanlund Administration Building to rally on the building’s front steps. University administrators have their offices in Swanlund.

Kerry Pimblott, the lead negotiator for the GEO announced to the crowd that they had won major concessions from the University including eliminating the possibility of graduate students being forced into taking furloughs.

“We control this campus we decide if they have instruction on this campus,” she told the crowd.

Pimblott said the GEO would not agree to any deal that does not include guarantees of tuition waivers.

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According to a press release from the University, no changes to the current policy on tuition waivers would be made without bargaining with the GEO.

Demonstrators held picket signs in light rain and cold winds and made noise with improvised instruments while chanting “Who are we GEO.”

Pimblott also accused the University of trying to include what she described as “shaddy grievance procedures”, that would limit their right to raise a complaint, which she said they also defeated through negotiations.

Amy Richman, graduate student said she came out to the rally primarily because she was concerned that without tution waivers many of the undergraduate students she teaches would not consider graduate school.

“If tuition waivers are not protected only the wealthy will be able to go graduate school,” she said.

Picket lines encircled Gregory Hall, the Foreign Language Building and the English Building around 8:30 this morning. However, there were no signs of picketers on the Engineering Quad.

“I’m really excited and grateful for all the people out here today,” said Peter Campbell communications officer for the GEO. “Picket lines will continue until further notice,” he said.

Jason Hanson graduate student, said that without tuition waivers he would not be able to fund his education.

He also said the University was seeking to make a profit at the expense of their education.

“There is sort of a commodification of education going on right now,” Hanson said. “The administration believes there is a big untapped market of getting tuition from graduate students.”