After 54 graduate students dismissed at UCSC, a united front is critical to COLA movement success

After 54 graduate students dismissed at UCSC, a united front is critical to COLA movement success

Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE FILE

University’s reaction to COLA strikers unjust, unwarranted

Last week, 54 graduate students at UC Santa Cruz were dismissed from or did not receive their appointment to teaching assistant, graduate student instructor, tutor or reader positions for Spring Quarter due to their involvement with the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) strike. The Editorial Board condemns the UCSC administration’s decision to dismiss these students. We support the strikers, and we urge others across the UC to show solidarity with those choosing to take a stand for a reasonable standard of living.

Misunderstandings of the justification behind the COLA movement could create rifts between undergraduate and graduate students across UC campuses, so understanding the necessity of the demands is essential for creating a united front to support fellow students. We strongly encourage all graduate students across the UC to consider joining their peers — regardless of whether or not they feel connected to the movement, they should recognize the power of a unified strike.

The COLA movement is rooted in the fundamental need for a liveable income. Many of these students allocate over 50% of their income toward housing, and struggle to afford other basic necessities. Some, especially those living in high rent areas, have experienced this disparity more than others. As their contract dictates, graduate teaching assistant salaries are the same at each campus across the UC system, so even while the cost of living has increased in the areas around some UC campuses, wages do not always adequately account for these increases. 

In Davis, where the vacancy rate is infamously and abysmally low, graduate students in the COLA movement at UC Davis decided to withhold grades for Winter Quarter. The fact that a cost of living adjustment is relevant not just for workers at UCSC but also for those at UC Davis underscores the importance of this movement.

Instead of meeting strikers at the bargaining table, the administration has turned to threats and tactics of division to both dilute undergraduate support for graduate students and dismantle the movement itself. In the Notice of Intent to Dismiss sent to the 54 graduate students, UCSC the strikers’ “conduct has harmed graduate students and disrupted University operations.” The graduate students at UCSC, however, have reiterated their intention to cater to students in need of urgent grade submissions. Strikers understand the impact of their actions and have proactively created various resources, including a website featuring an FAQ for undergraduates

Graduate teaching assistants are an integral part of undergraduate education in the UC system. They teach, host office hours, grade assignments and serve as a sounding board and a resource for undergraduates. It is important to note that, while teaching assistants are still grading exams and assignments, inputting those grades is the only labor that they are withholding. 

The UC’s refusal to negotiate with the strikers will ultimately do harm to the institution as a whole. We strongly urge UC administrators to refrain from dismissing additional graduate students involved in the COLA movement and we implore UCSC administrators to reinstate the 54 graduate students who received a notice of dismissal.

Written by: The Editorial Board

2 Comments on this Post

  1. Anonymous

    The pro-strike element on campus is fundamentally dishonest. They continue to misrepresent the total compensation package of TAs which in totality includes 20kish salary + tuition (valued at 28k for non Californian students which are not Californian taxpayers subsidized) +SHIP health insurance ( Cadillac insurance Plan with 5 dollar copays for everything, 10k value) + childcare for grad students with children. You’re looking at a 60k+ compensation package for a 20 hour a week job and yet the strikers feel that they deserve another 15,000 so they can live a lavish lifestyle like those who started working instead on continuing education. Newsflash: if you continue education you are investing in your future, PhDs make more money than Bachelors their investment will pay handsomely in the future, and yet they feel they have the right to put the screws to undergrads and the taxpayer so that they can get an 80k compensation package the entirety of their education career.
    This criticism isnt even taking into account other fundamental realities such as 1. Pro union liberals who shill for unions constantly and dont realize that they signed away their rights to negotiate to the union making their work stoppage illegal during the duration of the CBA. 2. A Salary increase of 60% will obviously lead to every other union the UC campus negotiates with demanding this similiar COLA raise meaning tuition and costs will be increasing again soon. 3. The nasty and despicable behavior of the pro-strike element which ranges from disrupting midterms at UCSC, taking undergraduates grades hostage, blocking access to campus, and impunging the morality of those who have a modicum of economic sense. 4. Interesting as well that their “work stoppage” doesnt reach to stopping THEIR OWN research being produced for the UC campus, oh no becuase that would affect their own goals and selfish interests instead they stop work for the undergrads who are TAKING LOANS TO PAY YOUR SALARIES unbelievable GREED from a very SMALL set of Liberal Arts far leftists who think that they are owed 100k+ salaries to tell you how evil white men are. The REAL educated students majoring in practical studies like physics, math, computer, etc. Know they are going to make fat stacks after grad school and thus have no need to extort through hostage taking.
    GET OVER YOURSELVES. GET A REAL JOB. STUDY SOMETHING ACTUALLY USEFUL

  2. Negotiating with a group that has already negotiated a valid contract with UC undermines the entire collective bargaining process. What gives these students the right to impinge upon or deny basic civil rights to the public who have no influence over their situation? Closing the campus and preventing people from entering or exiting on their own free will violates basic civil rights for all. Do the students have special rights that supercede everyone else?

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