CGE delivers letter of concern to Old Main
The Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) delivered a letter of concerns, outlining conditions graduate employees currently face, to President Eric J. Barron Wednesday afternoon in Old Main.
CGE’s protest began in front of Pattee Library, where the organization proceeded to march toward Old Main.
“Different colleges within Penn State handle things differently, but there are great inequities in the way that graduate employees are treated versus other employees in the university. Healthcare is one [area] where I know they are not treated fairly or compensated fairly for the work that they do. The right to unionize is something that shouldn’t be in controversy anymore. This is something that other universities have done successfully and the sky hasn’t fallen. Penn State, my alma mater and my employer, owes the CGE to be heard fairly,” stated Mark Friedenberg, an assistant teaching professor for the College of Information Sciences and Technology.
“I am here because my department has gone back on contracts that they have made with students promising funds that were not delivered. I am here because there seem to be gender discrepancies in the people we hire and how we pay them. I am here because there seem to be racial discrepancies in the way we seem to promote white students over non-white students,” said Aubrey Waddick, a graduate student in political science.
“I am here because we do not have representation, we do not have a voice, and we do not have someone in our corner to stand up against this power differential. I am here, not just for myself and for my department, but for every student who is in Penn State.”
Many key concerns listed in the CGE’s letter include stable healthcare, a living wage, better working conditions, protection for sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct, and protections for international graduate employees.CGE Letter
“It’s important to us to level the power differential so that we have some say when the administration makes decisions about our healthcare, our stipends, childcare, title nine protections… I’m here fighting to make this a more accessible university to all graduate employees, and not just the ones who come in independently wealthy… I’m a teacher here. My students can get the best education they can get when I’m treated well as a teacher, when I have a say in my workplace, and when I have a say in my teaching load. I want to commit my absolute all to my students and to be able to do that I need a friendly workplace,” said Liana Glew, a Ph.D. candidate in the English department.
CGE marched into President Barron’s office and waited for his arrival before CGE President Doug Kulchar handed him the letter. President Barron assured protestors that he would carefully look at the letter.
The letter goes on to request a meeting before Dec. 20, 2017, to address these concerns and to create solutions for them.
“We have put the administration on notice. If the administration comes down with lawsuits and corporate lawyers out of Philidelphia, spending student tuition dollars, they now know what issues they are fighting us on,” CGE President Doug Kulchar said to a crowd outside of Old Main following the letter delivery.
“Solutions to these problems are achievable, reasonable, and necessary for the well-being of graduate workers and Penn State,” said Liana Glew, CGE’s Record Keeper. “Open communication between administrators and graduate employees is key to working on solutions. We’re willing to talk. It’s up to Penn State’s administration to take the next step and work with us on these issues.”
The Underground reached out to university for a comment on whether the meeting will take place and a Penn State spokeswomen told The Underground that officials are looking into the situation and will get back to The Underground for comment.