Support for International Students, CARES Act Survey, and More!

Support for International Students   

In the last few weeks, the Trump administration has announced a series of immigration restrictions affecting international academics. These include revoking the visas of many Chinese graduate and postdoctoral workers in STEM fields, and suspending the issuance of H1-B visas, which are often given to foreign faculty members, until the end of the year. In response, graduates in the Biological Sciences Division are circulating a letter of support asking the UChicago administration to publicly denounce these policies—as multiple other universities have done—and to provide tangible support, including town halls and legal representation, for those affected. You can read the full letter here and add your signature here

CARES ACT Survey

Last week in our newsletter, we raised our concerns about how the university is disbursing funds from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act’s established Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Specifically, we have been concerned about the accessibility of funds, since the university implemented an invitation-only process which leaves many graduate students ineligible due to conditions that the university added to the original criteria of the Act.    We are still in the process of assessing the extent to which these funds have been made available to graduate student workers, and how many otherwise eligible students could not apply due to the process and the conditions that the university designed. To help us in our assessment, please take a minute to fill out our short questionnaire!

Things That Make You Go 🤔

Last week, Humanities Dean Anne Robertson sent an email to the division, urging recipients to “reclaim our academic and cultural life” in the wake of recent events, specifically the outbreak of COVID-19 and uprisings in response to the murder of George Floyd. For many members of the community, Dean Robertson’s email, which eschewed the word “murder” when describing Floyd’s killing and referred to the philosopher Boethius’s thesis that happiness comes from within, came across as tone deaf, to say the least. A member in the music department replied, and shared her email exchange, and its effects in her department, with us:

“I wrote back to address three points: the insensitivity of language surrounding the murders of Black folks due to state-sanctioned policing, the unclear state of the university moving forward during the COVID pandemic, and the lack of engagement with the critical texts of Black radical feminists and disregard for the political oppression of peoples in our own time and space. The letter provoked self-reflection in the department with regards to the power dynamics we all face as graduate students. Faculty have responded with unease despite the solidarity and collectivity of the graduate students, showing the complicity to power in the unveiling truth. Graduate students in the department are now organizing response letters, mutual aid funds, fundraising infrastructures for Trans- and Non-binary Black led organizations, and above all community. Instead of finding the happiness from within, we are building a collective of support and care “in relation to.'”
Upcoming Events

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 find the Zoom link on your GSU newsletter!

Vision Committee: Every Tuesday at 6:00PM Open to all members, Vision Committee is our newest committee and is actively working on the shape of the newly independent GSU. This work is incredibly important, and there is something for everyone on any time scale (synchronous and asynchronous work available!). Current projects include revising our constitution, worker organizing (member outreach, mutual aid, political education, direct actions), communications and design, and making GSU a more inclusive environment! Please feel free to reach out and find the Zoom link in your GSU newsletter.

Stewards Council/Organizing Committee: Every  Monday at 6:00PM This is a place where organizers can hear from each other and strategize going forward.  If you are interested in becoming a steward, either email us or find the Zoom link in your GSU newsletter.

FORCe (Funding Overhaul Research Committee): Every Wednesday at 6:00PM We are currently deciding what kind of actions we want to take over the summer and what we want next Fall to look like. To get involved with FORCe please email us or find the Zoom link in your GSU newsletter.

Mutual Aid Committee: Every Thursday at 5:30PM Our Mutual Aid Committee is one of our newest committees, which focuses on building membership and community solidarity through mutual aid. If you are interested in getting more information please email us or find the Zoom link in your GSU newsletter.

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 find the Zoom link in your GSU newsletter.

Stay Tuned for Summer GMMs! As we continue to determine how an independent GSU will move forward, we are also planning several summer GMMs to hear more about what members want for and out of GSU. The first one should be happening in a few weeks, so continue to watch this space and our social media for more details! 

GSU Walk-Out/Teach-In on June 3

walkoutteachin_gsu

Dear Friends,

We are excited to have you join us on Zoom for our GSU Walk-out/Teach-in about organizing for racial justice in Hyde Park tomorrow, June 3!

Tomorrow’s teach-in has been organized to explicitly highlight black voices and issues of racial justice within our own community, including speakers from Care Not Cops, the Reparations Working Group, and activists from the campaign for a South Side Trauma Center. Now more than ever, we are especially grateful to be hearing from these much-needed organizations in our community. Political education is an essential tool for liberation and mobilization, and we will be providing information and resources for how grad students can support protesters and local organizations throughout the day, and discussions will focus on how grads at UChicago can work for racial and economic justice at UChicago and beyond.

Without racial justice, the needs of graduate workers cannot be fully met. We believe that supporting GSU also means standing in solidarity with community organizations across Chicago and around the globe. Moreover, the University of Chicago’s historical relationship to slavery, systematic destruction of black and working class communities on the south side, and maintenance of the UCPD, a private militarized police force which was deployed against peaceful protesters in Hyde Park this weekend, means that the struggle for a more just and democratic campus is intimately related to larger struggles against police brutality and racial inequality. Graduate student organization is one of the ways that we can pressure the administration to defund the UCPD and invest in south side community resources. The fight against exploitation in our community is not bounded by campus walls.

There are many ways for graduate workers and allies to participate in the walk-out through actions of solidarity, political education, and mutual aid. We fully support all our members who will be engaging in direct action, protest, and mutual aid on Wednesday, and hope that our teach-in can be another venue for movement building and working towards parallel goals. Wednesday will also be a time for angry and anxious grad workers to come together when so many have been so isolated.

You can find all the information about the walk-out/teach-in, the full schedule of synchronous and asynchronous events, and how you can show solidarity here: http://bit.ly/GSUWalkOutInfo

For those interested in sharing the Facebook Live details, it will be telecast live at our event link here: http://bit.ly/GSULive

We have sent Zoom details in a GSU newsletter sent to your email addresses on June 2. Otherwise, email us at gsu [DOT] riseup [DOT] net. 

Mutual Aid Open House TONIGHT, New Interim Co-President of Grievances, and More!

Mutual Aid Open House

The GSU Mutual Aid Committee’s Zoom Open House is today, May 7th, at 5:30pm. At this event, members of the committee will briefly introduce the history and basics of mutual aid, present on what they believe are the immediate needs of GSU members (gleaned from our last two member surveys and their experiences) and will facilitate break-out groups to start coordinating mutual aid actions. These actions can include peer mental health support, Covid support-check-ins, grocery deliveries, childcare support, peer support and peer mentoring, food delivery and food solidarity actions, mutual aid relief funds, and many, many more.

In this moment of crisis, precarity, overwork, and deep, deep uncertainty, it is crucial to build practices of solidarity and care in our community. If you have felt alone and would like some support, please attend and tell us about what you need and we will do what we can to get it to you. If you have felt restless and have been looking for concrete ways to get involved in helping others in our community, please attend and join us!

Join us on the call tonight, and write to us at gsu@riseup.net to find out more and get involved!

Zoom Info:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85217900932
Meeting ID: 852 1790 0932
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New Interim Co-President for Grievances

We’re pleased to announce that the steering committee has appointed an interim President for Grievances, Kit Ginzky from SSA! Many thanks to Kit for taking on this critical position in our union leadership. There are still some officer positions that need to be filled after our recent election—please write to gsu@riseup.net if you’d be interested in serving as Communications Secretary, Biological Sciences Division (BSD) Representative, Physical Sciences Division (PSD) Representative, or Divinity School Representative.

Provost’s Email about Reopening Research

Earlier this week, Provost Ka Yee Lee emailed the University community to discuss the resumption of research on campus, despite the extension of the governor’s stay-at-home order until May 30. The Provost has convened a faculty committee to guide the reopening of on-campus research, which should begin happening by mid-May.

Though the email emphasizes that this reopening is meant to be done by implementing safety protocols, we know from experience and our bargaining survey that the potential for safety violations is significant, and that graduate workers have limited recourse when exposed to unsafe working conditions. If you’re a graduate worker involved in on-campus research, you may be asked to return to campus in the coming weeks. Please contact us at gsu@riseup.net if you have concerns about this process, encounter any disregard for your safety, or would like to make your experience heard.

Things That Make You Go 🤔

By now, many of us have probably seen UChicago Professor of Sociology Kimberly Hoang’s op-ed in the Maroon, “Preparing for the Academic Job Market in an Economic Recession.” While it doesn’t explicitly mention unions, the piece uses the same rhetoric that we often find in more blatantly anti-union communications from the admin. After suggesting that grad students think about shifting their research to COVID-related topics and reminding us—especially, for some reason, those of us from working-class backgrounds—that rejection is common in academia, Prof. Hoang ends by urging that we recognize our extraordinary privilege in making more than our colleagues at UIC. We could devote this entire newsletter to pointing out the issues with Prof. Hoang’s advice, but instead we’ll let Dr. Karen Kelsky, author of The Professor Is In book and blog, have that honor.

Funding overhaul petition, COVID-19 relief campaign in the news, and Mutual Aid Open House

Sign the Funding Overhaul Petition Today!

Last year, on May 1, 2019, GSU members joined with nurses, library staff, administrative and custodial workers, and other members of the UChicago Labor Council to stage a march and rally in the quad in honor of International Workers Day. This year, the pandemic and social distancing measures have made such actions impossible—but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to advocate for our rights as grad workers. On Friday, May 1, 2020, we have submitted an online version of our funding overhaul petition to the Provost’s office (Note: you can still sign this petition after 5/1).

GSU in the News!

On campus and nationally, GSU’s organizing is earning media attention. Late last week, the Chicago Maroon reported on our calls for relief during the current crisis, as research is halted, teaching and parenting work increases, and we all deal with the anxiety and stress—and for some of us, grief and loss—of a global pandemic.

That was followed by an article this week in Vox. While focused largely on campaigns for tuition relief (including here at UChicago), this piece also highlighted GSU’s calls for extended funding and deadline flexibility. A GSU representative particularly pointed to the impact on grad workers supporting families, as well as international students facing costs and uncertainty around visas.

Both articles centered on the demands in our Covid-19 relief petition, which you can sign today, and share with colleagues! It’s easy to find at http://bit.ly/GSUcovid.

Mutual Aid Open House

In this moment of crisis, precarity, overwork, and deep, deep uncertainty, it is crucial to build practices of solidarity and care in our community. To this end, the GSU Mutual Aid Committee is hosting a Zoom Open House next Thursday, May 7th, at 5:30pm. At this event, members of the committee will briefly introduce the history and basics of mutual aid, present on what they believe are the immediate needs of GSU members (gleaned from our last two member surveys and their experiences) and will facilitate break-out groups to start coordinating mutual aid actions. These actions can include mental health support, Covid support-check-ins, grocery deliveries, childcare support, peer support and peer mentoring, food delivery and food solidarity actions, mutual aid relief funds, and many, many more.

If you have felt alone and would like some support, please attend and tell us about what you need and we will do what we can to get it to you. You are not alone. If you have felt restless and have been looking for concrete ways to get involved in helping others in our community, please attend and join us!

Join us on the call next Thursday, and write to us at gsu@riseup.net to find out more and get involved!

Zoom Info:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85217900932

Meeting ID: 852 1790 0932

One tap mobile
+19292056099,,85217900932# US (New York)
+13017158592,,85217900932# US (Germantown)

Dial by your location
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
      +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
      +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
      +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
      +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
      +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

Meeting ID: 852 1790 0932
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbbWSgzWyf

Ferguson and Its Afterlives: February 10th

Please join us for “Ferguson and Its Afterlives,” a GSU-sponsored roundtable on solidarity, alliance and organization in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter, to be held next Tuesday, February 10th, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the University Church, 5655 South University Avenue. Dinner will be provided. Please RSVP at our Facebook event and share widely! Continue reading “Ferguson and Its Afterlives: February 10th”

Fees, fees, fees! Town Hall and Rally this January 26th & 30th

Announcing a Town Hall on FEES next Monday, January 26th at 5 p.m. at the University Church, 5655 S. University Avenue

RALLY next Friday, January 30th at 2 p.m. at the Quad

It’s that time of year again —

Time to pay your quarterly bill from the Bursar’s Office. How much are you paying in fees this quarter? Here are just a few of the fees that may show up on your bill: Continue reading “Fees, fees, fees! Town Hall and Rally this January 26th & 30th”

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”

Building Power from the Bottom Up: Grassroots Democracy and Union Power at UChicago after the CTU Strike

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
7:00pm until 8:30pm

Cobb 110, Cobb Lecture Hall
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Join Graduate Students United (GSU) for an open discussion on grassroots organizing which will be the first in a series of forums called “The University Chicago Deserves,” which seeks to strengthen student organization and build alliances with other unions and our community.

During the recent Chicago Teachers Union strike, tens of thousands of CTU members and supporters participated in daily marches. The seven-day strike came on the heels of a downtown rally and march of 6,000 teachers in May and then more than 24,000 members voting in June to authorize a strike. None of this would have been possible two years ago. How did the members of the Chicago Teachers Union transform themselves into a activist, member-driven union that formed community alliances to fight for the schools Chicago children deserve? Continue reading “Building Power from the Bottom Up: Grassroots Democracy and Union Power at UChicago after the CTU Strike”