Underpaid at UT Solidarity Statement with UC Santa Cruz Strike

Originally published by Underpaid at UT. Published in support of UC Student Workers UAW 2865 Santa Cruz

Underpaid at UT stands in solidarity with our graduate student colleagues at the University of California–Santa Cruz, who have been withholding grades and labor because UC refuses to pay a living wage. Students across the UC system are on strike, demanding COLAs—Cost of Living Adjustments—to keep up with the skyrocketing rents of California cities. We are appalled that UCSC has fired nearly 100 Teaching Assistants participating in grade and labor strikes. Major universities like UCSC have a responsibility to pay a living wage to the students they accept and recruit. Instead of addressing TAs’ reasonable demands and financial need, UCSC has taken away their only means of financial support. UC President Janet Napolitano is spending millions of dollars to maintain a police presence on campus to suppress the strikers, yet refuses to commit the same resources to supporting TAs.

Graduate student workers at the University of Texas at Austin are no strangers to the financial strain of making ends meet in an increasingly expensive city. We understand exactly why students across the UC system are risking everything to make their lives as graduate students livable. UCSC should be ashamed of its actions towards its graduate student workers and their supporters. Graduate school is already prohibitively expensive for many first-generation students, students from low-income households, and students of color who major universities supposedly devote many resources to recruiting. As long as universities like UCSC and UT Austin deny graduate students enough money to live, they reproduce inequities and exclusion by making themselves accessible only to a majority-white financial elite. The actions of graduate student workers at UCSC are part of a larger and critical battle for the relevance of universities and their ability to serve all students.