GEO Member Responds to Chancellor’s Message

Dear Chancellor Holub,

Thank you for keeping the campus community updated on the status of the budget and the financial plans of the University. I do appreciate this communication and the transparency it brings to the campus.

Speaking, however, as someone who is increasingly suspicious of the administration’s good will particularly as regarding GEO contracts, I did not appreciate the implied criticism of my union and of those union members who, like me, feel that the University’s position towards us can best be characterized as complete financial and social lack of respect. While I am certainly grateful for any further “supportive statements,” the fact remains that the most recent contract, still unfunded, not only fails to provide any raise for the first year, but provides raises that are less than inflation for the two following years, if I remember correctly. Since my household already qualifies for state aid for fuel costs because of our graduate student incomes, and both my housemate and I already work more than one job, making it more difficult for both of us to pursue our studies effectively and in a timely way, which in turn will affect our job prospects, the contract as initially negotiated is almost insulting, since all of my expenses do indeed keep up with inflation. To be accused on top of this of divisiveness and finger pointing for having ceased to believe that the University administration have my best interests at heart is a further insult.

I understand that we are in difficult financial times. Realistically, though, the graduate students at UMass have been in difficult financial times since before the latest nation-wide economic catastrophe, so I hope that if you find us less amenable than usual to having our raises taken from us, our insurance co-pays increased, and our fees constantly under negotiation, you will grant us some leeway. Given that we also teach a large percent of the credit hours on the UMass campus and that our research not only helps to contribute to UMass’s reputation as a research institution but even sometimes produces grants and funding for the University, perhaps you will even be able to pardon us our cynicism.

At least until we have a contract that gives us a wage that is compatible with the cost of living in this area, that lets us stop worrying about constant changes in our health insurance, child care, and student fees, and that shows, rather than tells, how much the university values our contributions to campus life, teaching, and research.

Anna Strowe
Ph.D. Candidate
Comparative Literature
GEO Member 2007-present

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