Organizing Orientation on January 24

Calling ALL GSUers, new and old! Do you care about healthcare, gender equity, childcare, accessibility, labor relations, and graduate student life on the University of Chicago Campus? We do, and we believe graduate students can organize effectively to have a strong voice on campus and be a resource to our members and colleagues. Our success depends on your help and direction. We are hosting an Orientation to “Organizing an Academic Labor Union” for everyone interested in getting more involved. Continue reading “Organizing Orientation on January 24”


Fall Quarter update

Hey GSU members,

Thanks to everyone for coming out to our quarterly members’ meeting this week. We had 77 people come, which makes it the largest meeting we’ve ever had. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a quick rundown.

We started out talking about what we’ve won over the past few years, and about the great diversity of our union. We include everyone from first to ninth-years, from the sciences to the Divinity School. We’re doing a vast range of work, from research and teaching assistantships to lecturing, working in the library, and teaching off-campus. And although there’s a lot that people are happy about — the camaraderie, the intellectual life, the chance to teach — we also face some very real workplace issues, like high student fees, absent disability services, problematic health care, non-existent childcare, and salaries that don’t rise with the cost of living. After that, we also face a bad job market and a structural decline in tenured academic work. As Kaya put it: “many of us are immediately precarious — in terms of our jobs and working conditions — and we’re also more broadly precarious, since we’re entering a system that’s crumbling underneath us.”

Continue reading “Fall Quarter update”

Open Letter to the Faculty

Dear Faculty of the University of Chicago,

We, the undersigned students and members of Graduate Students United (GSU), are writing to explain why we believe graduate student employee unionization would be a positive development for the university as a whole — graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, and staff alike.

A letter sent by the Provost’s Office on October 15th occasioned some concern and confusion about what a graduate student union on this campus would look like.  At Graduate Students United, our aims are quite simple.  While we are not yet recognized as a union, we believe that graduate students are workers as well as students. We are dedicated to seeing both these roles recognized. We believe that graduate students should have a voice in the decisions that affect our livelihood.  We are committed teachers and researchers and want to see this institution fulfill its educational mission both for ourselves and for those we teach.  Finally, we believe that all members of this university should have a say in determining the future direction of this institution.

The Provost’s letter may be read to imply that faculty are the targets of GSU’s campaign to unionize.  This is not true.  Our goal is simply to gain a voice in the decisions that affect our working conditions.  Productive relationships with faculty are crucial, both to that end, and to our success as graduate students.  However, we are concerned that the Provost’s letter, in conjunction with meetings that top administrators have held or may hold with faculty and deans resemble union avoidance strategies that administrators – including President Zimmer – employed at the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Brown Universities when graduate students at those institutions attempted to form unions in the 2000s.  If anything, we are concerned that it is these strategies, not unionization, that may impact faculty-student relationships.

Continue reading “Open Letter to the Faculty”

In Response to Deputy Provost Deborah Nelson

Dear fellow graduate students,

On November 4th, all of us received a letter from the new Deputy Provost of Graduate Education, Deborah Nelson, seeking to “set in motion a collaborative effort to continue to improve the graduate experience at the University of Chicago” (our emphasis). We welcome this effort by the Provost’s Office and look forward to working with Deputy Provost Nelson in the coming year, but we wish to note that the effort she describes is already underway. Graduate students themselves set it in motion when they founded Graduate Students United in 2007.

In the past four years, GSU has identified a number of issues of tremendous concern to graduate students at the University: access to decent and affordable healthcare and childcare, an end to Advanced Residency Tuition and other punitive fees, and better pay for the work we do here on campus–whether teaching, research, or other labor. We have successfully mobilized around several of these issues, and have won the following major victories:

  • a 100% increase in TA pay, from $1,500 to $3,000 per quarter (in 2008);
  • a 43% increase in pay for lecturers, from $3500 to $5000 (also 2008);
  • service improvements at the U of C Student Care Center (in Winter 2009);
  • a freeze in Advanced Residency tuition hikes (since 2008);
  • a change in the Bursar’s billing policy allowing students to pay their quarterly University tuition and fees until after receiving their first paychecks (in Fall 2011);
  • a promise by the Provost’s Office to amend the university’s parental leave policy so that student parents can retain their student status (and hence visa status, health insurance, and access to university facilities) while on parental leave or “academic modification” (Summer 2011)

Continue reading “In Response to Deputy Provost Deborah Nelson”

Nov. 9: GSU Quarterly Meeting

The Graduate Students United Fall Membership Meeting fast approaches!

We will have an info session for people new to GSU and those of you just interested in an update on what GSU’s been up to, followed by a membership meeting where YOU, the members, have your voices heard. On the agenda:

  • GSU’s childcare campaign
  • Occupy Chicago
  • Agenda-setting for the coming months (what would you like GSU to take on?)

The membership meeting is also a perfect time to pay your annual $5 dues, or to sign up if you’re new to GSU.

And, of course, join us afterwards at the pub for beer and friendship.

GSU Fall Membership Meeting
November 9th
6:00pm – info session
6:30pm – membership meeting
7:30pm – pub night!

location: Stuart 105

GSU Quarterly Meeting: April 14

Please join us for the Quarterly Meeting for the Spring Quarter today in Harper 130. We will go over updates on the recent projects that GSU has been engaging in and exchange ideas and concerns about our life here as Graduate Students.

Snacks and drinks and childcare will be provided. This is YOUR meeting, so bring your friends and your little ones for an hour of discussion on what all of us can do to make our university better! See you there!

PLACE: Harper 130 (Childcare in Harper 141)

TIME: 6-7pm, April 14 (TH)

GSU Quarterly Meeting: Jan. 27

Please join us for the Winter 2011 quarterly meeting.  We will be discussing: progress GSU is making toward unionization, recent teaching struggles in departments (that might be coming to yours soon), approval of the budget, and what YOU can do to help out.

Coming to the quarterly meeting is also a great opportunity to update annual dues ($5), and get to know your fellow GSUers in other departments.

Have a friend who hasn’t joined up yet?  Invite them along, and we will sign them up before the meeting!

Hope to see you (and your friends, and your coworkers) there. Light refreshments will be served.

Date: January 27
Time: 6pm
Location: Harper 140

Fall Quarter is Underway!!

We are now well into the fall quarter, and GSU is off to another great start. So far this year we hosted our Second Annual Kick-off Party, where we talked about the challenges that graduate students and GSU face this quarter. We have also been successful in signing up new members at the various orientation events all throughout campus.

This coming Thursday, October 21st, we will be holding a general meeting for ALL members, where we will talk about our goals and share our individual concerns and hopes for GSU’s direction this school year. We will be giving away gift certificates to the Seminary Co-op Bookstore to two lucky winners, so be sure to come and find out how to get involved with GSU!

What: GSU Quarterly Membership Meeting
Place: Social Sciences 122
Time: 5:30pm, October 21 (TH), 2010

For any questions, email

See you there!

Find Out More About Affiliation

Over the last two weeks, GSU members met and spoke with representatives from each of the five unions. But five separate meetings over two weeks were a lot, and many have suggested that we have one additional meeting where people can exchange impressions of the unions for those who have missed some or all of the meetings. So this coming Monday we will host an event where members can ask fellow members about the details of affiliation and the pros and cons of each of the unions that have visited. Food will be provided!

 Time: 6pm – 8pm, Monday, May 17

 Place: Stuart 105

Also, we have an updated flier with profiles and FAQ that you can download here (pdf). If you have any questions, you can also contact us at

See you all there!