We know that things are changing rapidly on campus in response to Covid-19, and that our members are being faced with unprecedented disruptions in our workplaces and lives. We’ll be updating this page with resources and frequently asked questions as information becomes available.
Do I have to pay the Student Services Fee (formerly Student Life Fee) for the Spring quarter?
If you are currently living more than fifty miles from Hyde Park, you are NOT required to pay the Student Services Fee. If you need to request the fee to be waived because you’ve had to move for the Spring quarter, you should contact the Bursar at email@example.com.
If you are still living within 50 miles of campus, the Student Services Fee has been reduced to $125 for the Spring quarter (usually it is $416 per quarter). This is a partial victory! The UChicago Labor Council letter outlining demands in response to Covid-19 advocated for the Student Services Fee to be waived completely for everyone for this quarter. Although this reduction in the fee is a partial win for our organizing efforts, we will continue advocating for the fee to be waived in order to keep much-needed funds in graduate workers’ pockets. The fee is not due until April 29, 2020.
How do I receive healthcare while campus is shut down?
Student Health and Counseling Services are still open during their regular hours. Usually, our health insurance (U-SHIP) requires us to go to the Student Health Center first in order to receive a referral to go to another provider. However, in response to the current circumstances, the $50 non-referral deductible will be waived through Spring Quarter. This means a referral is no longer required before seeking care or treatment from a provider outside of Student Health and Counseling Services this quarter. You should still check to make sure that your provider accepts our health insurance.
Additionally, our health insurance provides 24/7 telehealth services. If you do not want to go to a health provider in person, you can set up a virtual appointment by downloading the HealthiestYou app, going to the HealthiestYou website, or calling (855) 870-5858. These consultations are free.
What if I get Covid-19?
U-SHIP has stated that, if you are tested for COVID-19, “cost sharing will be waived, including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines.” In plain language: you will not have to pay anything if you need a Covid-19 test. You also do not need a referral to get tested or treated. However, if you are hospitalized, you will still have to pay copays, coinsurance, and deductibles as outlined under our insurance plan.
What campus services are still available?
Student Health and Counseling Services are still open during their regular hours and are increasing capacity to provide remote options to deliver medical and mental health care.
The Dean-on-Call and Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call can be accessed by calling 773-834-HELP (4357) 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
Staff at Student Disability Services and the Office of International Affairs have transitioned to virtual offices and can work with students remotely.
In the Spring Quarter, the Center for Leadership and Involvement will be collaborating with student leaders and campus partners such as UChicagoGRAD, the Center for Identity + Inclusion and Spiritual Life to sustain student communities and support RSOs and other student-led initiatives that can take place remotely.
How will this affect my funding and pay?
The University administration has stated that institutional aid and stipends will disburse on 3/20 as scheduled and should be received by 3/30. Federal loans and grants are planned to disburse to student accounts on 3/27 provided the student is enrolled in 200 units or more.
Pay dates for Spring Quarter assistantships and on-campus employment will not change. The first bi-weekly pay date for Spring Quarter is 4/10/2020. The first monthly pay date will be 4/30/2020. Students in assistantships for Winter Quarter 2020 can still expect their final payment on 3/31/2020.
If you have an on-campus hourly job and are able to work remotely, you are expected to work remotely and will be paid for the hours that you work. If you have an on-campus job that you can’t do remotely, the administration has promised to pay you for the equivalent of six weeks of pay based on the projected hours that you would have worked.
If you need emergency funding, options for assistance through the administration are available at https://bursar.uchicago.edu/emergency-assistance-programs/.
How will this affect my research?
The stay-at-home order currently in effect in the state of Illinois means that all non-essential research activities requiring people to be present on campus have been suspended. Essential research functions have been defined by the administration as:
- “Critical maintenance procedures to maintain long term laboratory viability and safety. For example, providing animal support and maintaining critical equipment such as computation equipment, deep-storage freezers, incubators, mass spectrometers, and electron microscopes.
- COVID-19 research that may mitigate the spread of the pandemic.”
According to guidance received from the Vice Provost, faculty supervisors of graduate workers in labs have been instructed “to be creative and collaborative in thinking about tasks that can be performed remotely and still contribute to research in your fields.” He further noted that “unless you have been designated ‘essential personnel’, you should work exclusively remotely. You should consult with your program directors, chairs, or advisor as applicable to help understand how you can continue your research and progress towards the degree remotely.”
Now, we all know that just because faculty supervisors have been instructed to work with graduates towards a solution doesn’t mean that they have done so. It remains to be seen how much support administration will give to graduate students who have had their lab research disrupted or whether we will have problems with supervisors attempting to circumvent these instructions or lacking flexibility in creating accommodations for their graduate workers. If you are being instructed to violate the stay-at-home order for any non-essential research functions or otherwise run into difficulties, please be in touch with your steward or departmental organizer.
How will this affect my job responsibilities as an instructor or course assistant?
Conducting courses remotely requires a huge investment in time and labor from graduate workers, both as instructors and course assistants. Already, we are hearing from graduate workers who are being called upon to provide tech support and other logistical or administrative support for professors as they set up and begin holding online courses. You may be asked by faculty, supervisors, or administrators to take on responsibilities that, in a non-crisis situation, would otherwise fall outside of your job description.
This enormous demand for our labor is coming merely months after the funding overhaul that announced that our teaching would now be referred to as “mentored teaching experiences” and that our funding would be decoupled from our teaching. Undoubtedly, the responsibilities that we will be asked to take on in this crisis will fall far outside of the administration’s definition of mentorship and pedagogical training. It is more clear now than ever that we are workers, and that our labor is fundamentally for the benefit of the University as our employer, not for our own training.
For now, we ask that you keep track of the kinds of tasks that you are asked to take on and the number of hours you spend on them weekly as this situation develops. As always, please be in touch with your steward or a departmental organizer to discuss any problems that arise in your workplace during this time.
Will this affect my time to degree?
Some universities have responded to the disruptions caused by Covid-19 with measures such as extending the tenure clock for junior faculty. So far, we have not heard from the administration about whether there will be extensions for time to degree or extensions of funding for graduate students whose research, teaching, or coursework are delayed by this crisis. We encourage you to contact your Director of Graduate Studies to inquire about this and let GSU know about how this is affecting your efforts to finish your program.
How can I get help for myself or help care for others via mutual aid?
There are many resources that communities have been setting up to help care for themselves and others in response to this pandemic. See below for links to nationwide and local resources and volunteer opportunities.
A list of COVID-19 mutual aid resources throughout the United States
A sign-up sheet for Chicago area mutual aid volunteers.
A centralized list for requests and donations, focused on the University of Chicago community.