A tyrannical administration could destroy the University


Adam Zhang

GEO protest on the Quad on Monday.

By Lucas Oswald, Columnist

The administration has shattered the future of this University. By allowing a strike to even take place, especially now when prospective graduate students are in the process of making their decisions, they have guaranteed the loss of many great candidates.

Picture this: You are a prospective graduate student visiting campus. You have always imagined pursuing your higher degrees at this University. The day you choose to tour your dream school is a cool, foggy Wednesday at the end of February.

The Alma Mater guards the entrance of the Main Quad, looking especially dull in the misty, gray light. As you walk toward her, she seems to stare you down, glaring at you with empty, bronze eyes. You hear shouting from farther in and decide to investigate. Upon rounding the edge of Altgeld, a cacophony of sounds assaults your ears.

Walking in circles and chanting like the conga line from Hell are graduate students, banging on buckets and making as much noise as possible. Someone shouts into a megaphone: “Who are we?!”

“GEO!” yells the conga line.

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“What do we want?!” demands megaphone.

A chorus of graduates scream: “Fair pay!”

“When do we want it?!” asks megaphone.

“Now!” they respond.

You ask one of the many beanie-clad GEO members walking around what all the noise is about. She tells you that the Graduate Employees Union at the University is on strike, fighting for fair wages and tuition waivers. You think to yourself: the GEO actually has to fight to live above the poverty level? Maybe the University is not your best option after all, and besides, you were also accepted by both Purdue and Madison.

Why would any sane graduate student choose to attend a university that refuses to fairly compensate its graduate employees while simultaneously withholding tuition waivers? Without basic necessities such as these, I doubt the University will be able to attract the high caliber of graduate student that it searches for.

According to data gathered by U.S. News, nearly 20 percent of all classes at the University are taught by graduate students. Many more courses are assisted by TAs and other GEO members. If the quality of these crucial educators drops, the quality of the University will certainly fall as well.

It is safe to say that if this should occur, the University will also lose many students and professors to other schools that still hold reputations for excellent education, and this institution will settle into a steady decline. The GEO members are the backbone of the University and most of its programs and courses. To not pay them well enough to incentivize them to stay at this University is educational suicide.

I understand that the University is currently attempting to fill a massive hole in its funding. However, I do not see how forcing potential graduate students, and by extension paying undergraduate students wishing to be taught by top TAs and course assistants, away from our doors helps. In the long run, not yielding to the reasonable demands of the GEO, leaving them no choice but to strike, will cost the University dearly.

An administration that completely disregards the destruction it has caused to the educational system of the University it runs cannot care in the slightest about its students, both graduate and otherwise. This issue affects all of us. We cannot stand by and allow the administration to drag our University through the mud.

Who am I? An undergraduate. What do I want? Fair pay for my GEO teachers. And when do I want it? Now.    

Lucas is a sophomore in LAS.

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