There are a number of misunderstandings limiting undergrad engagement. Let’s clear the air.
(1) A “graduate student” is not a student as much as an employee. We may be here to learn, but we are regarded as a source of profit to be exploited. This was the hardest thing for me to understand; I certainly did not until I was already a few years into my PhD program. At this point (or has it always been this way?) a PhD is nothing more than a specialized professionalization degree; it is a guarantee of training as a university employee. (Do you detect my bitterness? I’m downright acrid with disappointment.)
(2) Because we are university employees, we are not allowed to work a second job (but to be honest we would have to work second and third jobs to make ends meet). I repeat: this is our only source of income, and it is exclusive. It isn’t clear to me anyway what time we would be able to devote to second or third jobs when we have two full-time jobs already, namely as GSIs and as young scholars who are expected to be taking classes because while we aren’t students in terms of undergraduate experience, we are at the end of the day also still students. I would say actually three jobs because we must also pursue our research
(3) But what a contradiction! We’re not students but we’re also still students?!?! Exactly. It’s an untenable situation but it is the situation we are in as students who have become a source of incredible profit for the university.
(4) Undergrads, your tuition is so much because the administration is ruled by greed. This situation is a result of corporatization beginning in the late 80s/early 90s.
(5) This is a learning opportunity for all of us: pay attention to who is pushing what narrative and how those narratives effect unity. It is a central move, always has been, to divide the majority into segmented fractions. But it is up to you whether or not that effort succeeds.
(6) definitely check out UofM GEO ON STRIKE, Day 8: Undergrads, we need your support
(7) By the way, to be clear: it’s 24K per academic year, typically in 10 payments during term. If we were getting 24K a semester, we wouldn’t be striking for 38K. 24+24=48 …lol, we’re not on strike for a 10K paycut!
Ps, Separately from the strike, I’m calling for a Neurodiversity Constellation Center based on the results of a survey I conducted informally last fall. Read about it here: Call for a Neurodiversity Constellation Center at University of Michigan
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