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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Graduate walkout dead, replaced with Mall event”

Feature+photos+on+campus%2C+blind+woman%2C+theatre+art+students.+Graduate+student+rally+organization+near+old+main.+
Feature photos on campus, blind woman, theatre art students. Graduate student rally organization near old main.

After several days of speculation, UA graduate students will band together on Thursday to express their displeasure over university budget cuts.

The UA graduate student community has been weighing its options since the Graduate and Professional Student Council meeting last week. One of the options that gained rapid attention was a possible walkout meant to mirror a similar walkout within the University of California school system that will take place Thursday at noon.

While the graduate students will not be staging a walkout this week, they will instead take to the UA Mall on Sept. 24 from about 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.

“”We’re trying to get it on the stage,”” said geography doctoral student Jen McCormack, an organizer of Thursday’s event. “”This isn’t just a student movement. We’re trying to create a community concept.””

Organizers stressed that the event will involve faculty and students talking about how university cuts will affect them and is not meant to be reactionary or hostile.

“”We want it to be a positive, informative event,”” McCormack said. “”There seem to be quite a few people on campus who don’t know what is going on.””

The announcement of the event comes on the heels of President Robert Shelton accepting a sit-down meeting with graduate leadership. The meeting will take place today in the Regents Room of the Administration Building at 4 p.m.

The meeting is open to anyone, and GPSC President David Talenfeld said he expects a high turnout.

The GPSC meeting with Shelton was granted after the graduate student government sent a letter to the president last week.

The letter outlined three priorities, including tuition remission for Graduate Assistants in Teaching, no reduction in GAT health care benefits and the creation of a Graduate Student Bill of Rights.

Talenfeld said that although he agrees with advancing the graduate student agenda, all parties involved should keep in mind that the current budget crunch just does not allow the university to run as it used to.

“”There is simply not enough money to maintain the status quo,”” he said. “”Unfortunately, everyone has to make sacrifices.””

A potential walkout had seemed to be gaining ground among the graduate student community late last week.

More than 50 graduate students and teaching assistants gathered outside of Old Main on Sept. 18 to stress their disapproval of budget actions taken by the UA’s upper administration.

Graduate students at Old Main suggested a possible walkout set for Sept. 24 around noon, during which graduate TAs would gather as a collective voice of opposition on the UA Mall, either on the west platform or the cactus garden in front of the Administration Building.

The purpose of the demonstration would be to “”put a stick in the beehive”” to attract the attention of Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay, said Conor Cash, a masters student in geography and co-organizer of the gathering outside of Old Main.

The group largely expressed that a walkout would have to include most of the graduate student community for the administration to take them seriously and not charge the teaching assistants with violating their contracts.

While Talenfeld understands the concerns of his constituents, he was not in favor of a graduate student walkout.

“”It hasn’t been discussed formally with the council,”” he said. “”(Teaching assistants) take a certain risk by being insubordinate in not showing up for work.””

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