Grad students across UC system strike & protest, demanding higher pay
- Graduate student assistants across the University of California system are demanding pay increases.
- The protests are in solidarity with graduate students at UCSC who withheld students' grades while demanding more pay.
Graduate student workers across the University of California system are standing in support of their colleagues at the University of California-Santa Cruz after they withheld students' fall 2019 semester grades, stole food from campus dining halls, and blocked campus roadways, resulting in 17 arrests.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is also the leading contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president recently expressed his support for the UCSC protesters, as Campus Reform reported. "UCSC grad students are fighting to have their labor rights acknowledged. I strongly urge the president of the UC system to stop threatening them, especially immigrant students, for organizing," Sanders wrote in a Feb. 19 tweet.
The protesters were originally given a Feb. 21 deadline to submit grades, or face termination.
"We are giving these students one final opportunity to fulfill their teaching responsibilities and show that they can fulfill future responsibilities. Those who do not submit full grade information by February 21 will not receive spring quarter appointments or will be dismissed from their spring quarter appointments," the school said in a Feb. 14 statement.
On Feb. 21, UC System President Janet Napolitano issued a statement agreeing to sit down with the protesters for a "dialogue."
"In the interest of pursuing a productive, meaningful dialogue about our shared concerns, I have invited leaders of the UC Graduate and Professional Council to join me for a meeting to discuss issues of importance and impact to graduate students, including cost of living, housing, mental health, training and mentoring, career placement, and childcare, among others," Napolitano said.
It's unclear whether all missing grades were submitted as a result of Napolitano's statement, or are still being held. The University of California did not respond to Campus Reform's inquiry in time for publication.
But the UCSC graduate students have now gained not only the support of Sanders but also of graduate students across the UC System.
Graduate students at UCLA, UC-Davis, UC-Berkeley, UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Merced, and UC-Irvine all joined in support of the protesters at UC-Santa Cruz or began protests of their own, also demanding cost of living adjustments.
At UCSB, protesters staged a sit-in inside the chancellor's office.
Approximately 30 graduate students are in the Chancellor’s office on the 5th floor of Cheadle Hall. Several graduate students are also holding their sections in the hallway, adding another 30 people. pic.twitter.com/o6mw0KbmuV— Daily Nexus (@dailynexus) February 21, 2020
At UC-Berkeley, protesters overtook a dining hall while chanting "cops off campus, COLA [cost of living adjustment] in our bank accounts."
And at UC-Davis, protesters stormed the student center while shouting, "ain't no power like the power of the people."