Living wage is reasonable

There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of grad employees. It’s all true, but there’s a way we benefit the University beyond enlightening minds and helping students learn. It’s a way that’s much more important to the University.

I’m talking about generating gobs and gobs of money.

If you’re a graduate employee, do the math. I took the base rate for in-state undergraduate tuition and fees each semester ($6330) and divided it by 4.5 classes, since students take 4 or 5, to get the amount a student pays to take my class: $1407. I multiplied that by the number of students I teach (along with two other TAs): 90. That means the three of us are generating $126,630 in revenue for the university.

Of that $126,630, the three TAs get paid a total of $11,146 between us. The University keeps the other $115,484.

I’m grateful that the University provides me with a classroom, Compass, a gigantic library, and even an overhead projector from the 1970’s. But it shouldn’t be hard to cover those costs considering that AFTER paying three TAs AND covering our tuition waivers, the University still gains a profit of over $87,000 per semester just from this one class.

For every dollar I generate for the University, I get less than 9 cents. The GEO is asking that I get less than 11 cents. The University would still get to keep the other 89 cents, and I’m fine with that- I’m fine with giving the University an 800% profit on my labor, because I love being a teacher and a student here. What I’m not fine with is making less than a living wage while doing so.

Karen Lichtman

graduate student