We are delighted to draw your attention to an email from the university’s Deputy Provost of Graduate Education that landed in your inbox last Thursday with the subject heading “Child care survey for graduate students.” You may have missed it, but embedded in this email was the following momentous declaration:
“The University of Chicago recognizes the challenges of raising a family while pursuing graduate and doctoral studies.”
Oh yeah, and this:
” As we consider a graduate student-focused child care facility on campus, your feedback is critical…”
Congratulations — you helped make this happen! For the past two years, GSU has worked hard to organize for affordable child care and better family leave policies for graduate students, because we view it as crucial to ensuring equality of access to graduate education. After many months of drafting reports, signing postcards and petitions, and organizing picnics and children’s parades up to the Office of the President, we are happy to witness the fruit born of our labors. We are also pleased by the administration’s acknowledgement this progress has arisen “in response to students’ concerns” — that is, in response to the Child Care Campaign led by GSU.
The next step is to actually fill out the survey and show them that we are sincere in our support for affordable childcare on campus. If you haven’t already done so, please follow the personalized link embedded in that email (sent March 7) and answer the survey, which is brief. We strongly encourage everyone — regardless of your present or future status as a parent — to give responses to indicate that your ardent desire for “a graduate student-focused child care facility on campus” remains steadfast and has not been dulled by time.
Secondly, let’s remember that we owe these changes to the power we’ve built as a union. The Deputy Provost’s announcement landed in our inboxes just ahead of International Women’s Day, the very day on which there convened a well-attended workshop on the status of women at the U of C
organized by GSU members and co-sponsored by GSU. The administration’s newfound solicitousness toward our childcare needs also comes on the heels of several other noteworthy developments:
– announcements of increased funding for doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences; and
– a letter warning faculty of an impending drive for union recognition by graduate students and threatening dire consequences for their own professional well-being. (Please click here for GSU’s response to these warnings. More info about the possibility of a union recognition campaign can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions.)
As GSU continues to build its membership, we can look forward to more of this two-pronged, “carrot-and-stick” response from the administration: on the one hand, further improvements to our lives as graduate students and employees; on the other hand, increasingly dire threats about the negative consequences of unionization. Let’s celebrate the improvements, disregard the threats, and come together to defend against any possible retaliation against union organizers on campus.
For now, though, let’s congratulate ourselves on the power we’re continuing to build and on the benefits we’re already seeing from our stronger organization. And let’s do our best to make sure every graduate student on campus fills out that survey!
Yours in solidarity,
The Child Care Campaign of Graduate Students United