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GEO Supporters Unite

November 15, 2009


As of today, 7 unions, 2 churches, 1 professional society, 16 campus organizations, and 54 professors, including several department heads, have issued public statements of support for the GEO.  The Undergraduate/Graduate Alliance, representing over a dozen Registered Student Organizations and hundreds of undergraduates, have also issued a public statement of support of the GEO and its decision to call a strike.  In this post, please find two of the more eloquent statements – one from a UIUC professor writing in response to a recent email sent to all UIUC faculty, staff, and students, and one from the representatives of the Undergraduate/Graduate Alliance.

From Professor Catherine Prendergast:

Provost Easter,

As it stands, TAs in many departments here are already drastically underpaid compared with what other schools in the CIC offer.  For example, one course in freshman composition is calculated to consume 17 hours of a TAs time per week at the University of Wisconsin. At the University of Illinois, that same course, which I direct, is only calculated to consume 13 hours. The real losers here are our undergraduate students.  Why should they accept four hours less per week of instructional time than they would get at Wisconsin? If the University were to tinker with tuition waivers, whether in-state, or out-of-state, thus even further down-grading its support to graduate students, you might as well rename this  East Central University of Illinois, so shattering would be the consequence to the UofI’s R1 status. I think the GEO’s version of the language on tuition waivers is by far clearer than what the university has proposed, and should be accepted.   Please invest in this university:  Approve the GEO contract.


Catherine Prendergast
Professor and University Scholar
Director, Undergraduate Rhetoric Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

And from the Undergraduate/Graduate Alliance:

We, the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance (U.G.A.), represent hundreds of undergraduate students in every academic unit, as well as dozens of Registered Student Organizations of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We stand in solidarity with the Graduate Employee Organization (G.E.O.), the 2,700 Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants it represents, and their struggle for a living wage and equitable working conditions.  We urge all our fellow undergraduate students to support the G.E.O. for the following reasons:

First, graduate students are the faces that we keep in touch with– graduate student labor comprises nearly one-fourth (23.1%) of our classroom experience.  This does not include the indispensable service they provide us through research, office hours, as mentors, and as members of the university community.

Second, an overworked (and underpaid) T.A. is a bad T.A.  Without an equitable contract graduate students will lack the institutional support needed to provide us with a quality education. Additionally our university will be unable to attract top quality graduate students.

Third, the unaffordability of graduate education threatens the integrity of our institution as a public entity.  We believe in a public and accessible university education as a fundamental human right.

The U.G.A. understands that grads and undergrads share a key feature in common – we are students.  As grads and undergrads we share the vision and the fight for equitable education.  Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are stronger when we learn, work, and fight together. For this reason we call upon our fellow undergraduate students to pursue the following actions in support of the G.E.O.:

Join us at upcoming rallies, and teach-ins

§   Tuesday, November 16th, 6 PM, YMCA:  U.G.A. Teach-In.  Come, get informed, get involved, and be heard.

  • Have conversations with friends, family, Professors, acquaintances—anyone who lends an ear.
  • Write letters and make phone calls  tell our University administrators how you feel as a member of this school community. (Interim Provost/Chancellor Robert Easter,, (217) 244-4545)
  • Tell your friends and family to write letters, they, too, have vested interests in this University- educational justice concerns us all.
  • In the event of a strike-

§  Avoid crossing picket lines.  If your class is being held in a building being picketed contact your Professor and ask them to move the class (contact the Campus Faculty Association to help you and your Professor find a new location).

§   Join us in saying “NO!” to discussions being taught by replacement workers (individuals brought on to undermine the strike and our Teaching Assistants as they fight for a living wage).

Adopted by the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance on Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 15th, 2009 | Category: UIUC coalitions, news, press coverage, take action
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