International Student Solidarity, CARES Act Survey, and More

Dear Members,

It has been a difficult week for many of us. GSU stands in solidarity with international students across the country. We hope that you are all staying safe and well amidst so many confusing changes in the world, and we also hope that this week’s newsletter will provide some context and ways forward for people who either need questions answered or would like to get involved with GSU.


Recent Changes for International Students and ICE Regulations

Earlier this week (July 6), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced stronger visa regulations for international students in the United States. In particular, the policy forces students with F-1 and M-1 visas whose course loads will be fully online to leave the U.S. or face deportation, and it imposes other conditions and restrictions with harmful consequences. This is a reprehensible action that puts numerous students in danger. On Tuesday (July 7), GSU issued a statement condemning these actions and calling for UChicago to use its legal and financial resources to fight this action: “We call on the University of Chicago to denounce these immigration restrictions in the strongest possible terms, and to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of its international community.”

Yesterday (July 8), at 8pm, President Zimmer and Provost Lee finally responded to ICE’s changes in a university-wide e-mail, writing, “We firmly oppose this new measure and will work to lessen its impact on the University’s international students.” It is great to have a university that “firmly opposes” actions that put many of its students in danger. However, this statement lacks any indication of substantive support for the students affected by ICE’s regulations (the email mentions the offer of remote classes, in-person courses and “community building” at UChicago’s international campuses in Paris and Hong Kong. As usual, students are being turned to UChicagoGRAD’s resources, including events and workshops for international students, though the email doesn’t explain how these will help the current problems international students are facing).
UChicago has yet to take any substantial action to protect students put at risk by ICE’s order. In contrast, a number of other universities, including Harvard and MIT, have sued for an injunction to prevent ICE from taking this action, or written amicus briefs in support of the lawsuit,. UChicago must similarly take action to protect its international students. 

GSU is currently organizing a town hall with legal experts to help international students and workers to understand how this situation will affect our community. We will also discuss how we can collectively help vulnerable members of our student population. Please stay tuned for an announcement soon.


CARES Act survey

Have you filled out our CARES Act survey yet? We want your thoughts on the university’s lack of transparency and limitations around access to CARES Act funds so that we know how to best address this issue going forward. You can fill out the (very short!) survey here. Many thanks to those of you that have already filled it out!


Protest Etiquette and Safety Guide

Our mutual aid committee has put together a document for members of GSU and our local community to get more information on how to get involved with the ongoing protests. This has suggestions on what to do before going to an action to stay safe, what to do after an action, how to get involved even if you can’t make it to the protests, and more! We will be adding to it throughout the summer and if anyone has any suggestions or would like to get involved with the mutual aid committee, please email us at gsu.mutualaid@gmail.com.
The Protest Etiquette and Safety Guide can be found here.


Things that make you go hmmm…UChicago takes down its plaque honoring Stephen Douglas

In its efforts to build “a stronger, more inclusive University of Chicago,” President Zimmer and Provost Lee announced earlier this week, in another campus-wide e-mail, that the university would remove its bronze plaque honoring Stephen A. Douglas, who was a slaveowner and donated much of the land on which the University of Chicago was originally founded. While purported to be a step of reckoning with the University’s problems of racial bias and inequities, in the same statement, UChicago distances itself from Douglas’s investment in slavery. The e-mail states that “Douglas died in 1861 and had no connection to the University of Chicago that was founded in 1890 as a new institution with a distinct mission.” As the Reparations at UChicago Working Group (RAUC) pointed out, these ties are stronger than the university readily admits. Moreover,  merely removing the plaque does not go nearly far enough toward satisfying the demands made of UChicago’s administration by the members of the University community and South Side community. Some of these demands, such as reparations in the form of affordable housing, healthcare, and education, and others, are much more urgent and stronger actions of accountability than the removal of a plaque,honoring a person to whom the University denies any connection. 

Read more in the paper “A Case for Reparations at the University of Chicago”  written by RAUC.


Call for Participation

As GSU re-charts its path forward post-disaffiliation and continues to monitor the administration’s response to emerging and intensifying crises, we want to heavily encourage our membership to get more involved this summer! This is an exciting time to get involved with GSU and all it takes is hopping on a Zoom call. Hope to see you all this summer!

Upcoming Events:

Last week we posted links to some GSU committees and events but the Zoom links didn’t work!  Here is that information again but with working Zoom links. All committees are open to all members always!

Happy Hour: Every Friday at 6:00PM

GSU is hosting a weekly Happy Hour/Solidarity Hour where you can come hang out and chat with your fellow union members, play some games, and talk with members of other grad unions around the nation! Email us for more information and join the weekly Zoom call.Meeting ID: 825 3495 0856Password: 7cWMiY

Steering Committee: Every Tuesday at 6:00PM

Steering Committee is where GSU’s “big-picture” work gets done, including work around GSU’s direction post-disaffiliation, grievances, and more. Currently Steering is working on recruiting new committee members and streamlining its operations, so much of the work Steering has been doing with regard to the shape of a newly independent GSU will be taken up this week in other committees. However, Steering is the place to come if you want to figure out how to get involved! This work is incredibly important, and there is something for everyone at any level of time commitment (synchronous and asynchronous work available!). Current projects include revising our constitution, communications and design, making GSU a more inclusive environment, and worker organizing (including member outreach, mutual aid, political education, and direct actions)! Please feel free to reach out and join the weekly Zoom call:Meeting ID: 542 212 576 Password: 816543

Stewards Council/Organizing Committee: Every Monday at 6:00PM

Interested in getting involved in charting GSU’s path forward as an independent union? Stewards/OC is going to be using our regularly scheduled meeting this coming Monday to hold a Working Groups session where we will consider the future of GSU via small group discussion (topics TBD). We really want to see a lot of union members (not just stewards and DOs!) show up for this, so please try to make it out! Going forward this summer Stewards/OC will be alternating between our normal meeting and Working Group sessions, so if you can’t make it this Monday, we look forward to seeing you sometime later this summer
Please reach out to Lilly Judge (lillianjudge1@gmail.com) if you have any questions or suggestions for Working Group topics in the future. Zoom link here.Meeting ID: 853 8180 0548Password: 658126

FORCe (Funding Overhaul Research Committee): Every Wednesday at 6:00PM

This summer, FORCe is focused on preparing for the fight against the coming austerity from COVID-19 budget cuts. This incredibly important work includes building organizing capacity around the university, brainstorming around potential future actions, working with other workers organizing on campus, and more! To get involved with FORCe or find out more, join the Zoom call here. Meeting ID: 602 861 460 Password: 511950

Mutual Aid Committee: Currently deciding on a new time! Email gsu.mutualaid@gmail.com to get the Doodle poll link!

Our Mutual Aid Committee is one of our newest committees, which focuses on building membership and community solidarity through mutual aid. We are currently working on how to build solidarity with local organizations, identifying and compiling local mutual aid networks for members to get involved with, and providing information about the ongoing protests. Join the Zoom call here.

Meeting ID: 821 1403 2598 Password: 410160

Communications Committee: Every Tuesday at 2:00PM

The Communications Committee focuses on communicating with our members and the wider public about our organizing work and the issues facing grad workers and other university employees at UChicago and around the country and world. We are responsible for GSU’s social media presence, newsletter, and media representation. To get involved email us or join the Zoom call