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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Graduate assistants get $8 biweekly salary raise

    Graduate research and teaching assistants at the UA will see slightly larger paychecks starting next month, when a state-mandated salary increase for all state employees kicks in.

    The state of Arizona allocated money to the UA to boost state employee salaries, and the money was divided internally within the UA, with graduate students receiving about $276,000, said Andrew Comrie, dean of the Graduate College.

    Comrie met frequently with Graduate and Professional Student Council president Catherine Neish to determine the best way to distribute the money among the UA’s roughly 3,000 graduate assistants and associates.

    In the end,

    Someone had said that when you work it out, it’s like a latte or two a week. No one’s arguing it’s big.

    -Andrew Comrie
    dean, Graduate College

    both agreed to make an across-the-board salary adjustment of $350 per year for a full-time equivalent (FTE) appointment, which is a 40-hour work week.

    Most graduate assistants have either half- or quarter-FTEs, meaning they work as research or teaching assistants for 10 or 20 hours per week.

    A half-FTE graduate assistant will receive a salary increase of $175 per year, which works out to around $8 every two-week pay period.

    With a recent GPSC workload survey indicating that half of the university’s graduate assistants are unable to maintain a reasonable livelihood, the roughly $4-per-week salary increase may help, but not by much.

    Neish, a doctoral candidate in lunar and planetary sciences, wanted to use the $276,000 to lift only the lowest graduate assistant salaries, but Comrie did not think that was “”in the spirit of the raise, which was to give everybody a raise,”” she said.

    The increase is retroactive to July 1 for state employees. The first adjusted paychecks will be issued Dec. 7.

    Some teaching assistants and resident assistants are paid with department overhead or grants, but they, too, will receive the same increase, Neish said.

    Graduate assistants who are not paid by the state may not see an increase until July 1, 2008, Neish said.

    “”I don’t see this as a response to graduate students complaining that they need more money,”” said Vincent Lonij, GPSC chair and a doctoral student in physics.

    Lonij said he believes that graduate students could use additional funding, but thinks the state-mandated salary increase is “”an inflationary correction.””

    “”Someone had said that when you work it out, it’s like a latte or two a week,”” Comrie said. “”No one’s arguing it’s big.””

    Despite the modest increase, the UA’s graduate assistants – just more than half of whom are teaching assistants – will see a bump in their wages, Comrie said.

    Graduate students make up 8,363 of the 36,805 members of the UA student body. Of those, 1,576 are teaching assistants and 1,252 are research assistants, according to the UA’s 2006-2007 Fact Book.

    “”A raise is a raise,”” Comrie said. “”By doing dollar raise, the relative percentage raise, of course, is greater at the bottom end of the scale compared to the top end of the earning scale.””

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