What Is Your Department/University Doing For Its Graduate Students During The Pandemic?


Some universities have included in their responses to the pandemic measures that extend various deadlines for faculty, add an extra year to faculty tenure clocks, and delay post-tenure reviews. We’ve heard less, though, about what steps are being taken to help graduate students.

It would be useful to hear what measures universities and departments are taking to assist graduate students and protect their interests, particularly in regard to their research and their preparation for the job market. These might include:

  • Extensions of deadlines
  • Extensions of funding
  • Provision of summer funding
  • Purchasing equipment/services needed to work remotely
  • Moving career-related and professional development events and advising online, rather than cancelling them

It might be useful to also hear about ways graduate students are helping themselves and others in their departments during this time, intellectually, socially, and materially.

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probably every grad student
probably every grad student
1 year ago

Shockingly, nothing, at least not for post-coursework grad students. Undergrads and grad students in coursework get optional pass/fail grading, faculty have extended tenure clocks, and we get to adapt to remote teaching while staying on track WRT program milestones with no extra money or time.Report

Wildcat
Wildcat
Reply to  probably every grad student
1 year ago

Our university is only offering pass/fail to the undergrads. Even the grad students in coursework have to take a grade. Not so bad in philosophy, where all our final grades were (almost certainly) going to be A’s regardless, but not good for other disciplines.Report

Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Wildcat
1 year ago

Why were all your final grades almost certainly going to be A’s regardless? What’s going on at your university?Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Justin Kalef
1 year ago

It’s not uncommon for graduate classes to be graded in such a way that “A” means “pass” and “B” means “fail”, or else “A” means “good pass”, “B” means “borderline pass” and anything else means “fail”. (The latter is basically written into graduate program requirements that require students to maintain a GPA above 3.7 and can’t count classes they don’t get at least a B in.) As long as students are doing reasonably good work, they mostly get A’s.Report

Justin Kalef
Justin Kalef
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
1 year ago

That makes a little more sense. I thought we were talking about undergraduates also.Report

Prof L
Prof L
1 year ago

I’m confused—why are tenure clocks being extended? How have faculty or graduate students been significantly hampered in their progress? If there are individual cases in which people have had trouble in various ways, is there any reason to think that these would be best dealt with on a policy level, rather than on an individual basis? I can imagine situations in which graduate students or faculty are unable to do as much work as they would normally be able to do: a spouse has lost their job, a family member is sick, children are now at home and requiring full-time care. But these are fairly unique situations, each requiring some specific kind of assistance, and blanket policies might exacerbate problems rather than help those who need it most, in the long run.Report

Grad Student in coursework
Grad Student in coursework
Reply to  Prof L
1 year ago

My university has so far offered exactly nothing in the way of extending summer funding or health insurance to graduate students. So, ya know, I might not have a place to live next year, but at least I’ll probably have exorbitant medical debt to give me something else to drown in.

I’m also pretty sure that grad students on assistantship or fellowship still won’t be eligible for unemployment once our pay stops at the end of the school year. So that’s an added perk in a time when most of the jobs we typically find in the summer just disappeared.Report

Grad Student in coursework
Grad Student in coursework
Reply to  Grad Student in coursework
1 year ago

(Oops, didn’t mean this to be a comment on the above post.)Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Prof L
1 year ago

Having children who are at home requiring full-time care is scarcely a “fairly unique situation”. A pretty substantial fraction of tenure-track faculty have children – almost certainly young children, given the normal ages. And virtually every daycare center and preschool in Europe and North America is closed. My guess is that just that one issue affects at least 25% of tenure-track faculty.Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

Agreed. But say 25% are affected and 100% are now getting dispensation. Why? Is it just that it’d be too hard for HR to sort out the forms (e.g., “apply if you need consideration, we’ll be fair”)? At least at the margins, there are probably some faculty whose tenure packages are improving in light of all this: e.g., suppose “we” have a pre-tenure colleague, with no kids, no department meetings, online classes that take less time than physical classes, and so on. And so why are *they* getting the deferral on a year’s worth of work?

So I wonder if the message here is just that, pragmatically, it’s too hard to sort out who gets the deferral and who doesn’t. Or if it’s that, on some level, there’s enough existential angst and anxiety floating around that we might as well act as if everyone’s compromised. Which, probably, we are.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Jon Light
1 year ago

I wasn’t really advocating a policy, just responding to the idea that there are a relatively small number of ‘unique’ cases and that the default is that people are unaffected. There are lots of other examples – time costs of preparing online teaching material; problems with a home-working environment (we give people offices for a reason); general costs to productivity of less cross-fertilization of ideas (we organize conferences and workshops for a reason too) – but I’m sensitized to the childcare issue because it’s affecting me.

But if I were to comment on policy: yes, I think I agree with your “pragmatically, it’s too hard” message. This is creating a vast number of interlocking and mutually reinforcing issues. Coming up with a tailored policy is realistically going to generate lots of anxiety, create lots of bureaucratic overhead, waste a lot of faculty and student time, require quite intrusive examination of things normally outside a university’s purview (whether your spouse works, what your home environment is like, etc.) and even so is going to miss cases.Report

panpsychist
panpsychist
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

Good & informative discussion here, but let’s maybe try to keep the focus on graduate students?Report

Wildcat
Wildcat
Reply to  panpsychist
1 year ago

All the concerns that David Wallace raises here are applicable to grad students as well. We have all of those factors keeping us from getting as much work done or doing it as well. So insofar as someone needs to be persuaded that there are actual problems here, everything he says is relevant to both situations.

That said, faculty are having a relatively easy time getting tenure extensions or lowered evaluation expectations. Grad students are (mostly) not seeing analogous extensions of our funding timelines or relaxation of standards for either our academic work or our teaching work.Report

panpsychist
panpsychist
Reply to  Wildcat
1 year ago

I agree, Wildcat. My comment was more in response to Prof L’s beginning remark: “I’m confused—why are tenure clocks being extended?”

At any rate, the discussion quickly became one about whether to favor a case-by-case policy, and what the practical constraints are, etc. I’m sorry, but adults can have that discussion elsewhere if they want to. The real question is, given the concerns Wallace raises many of which are applicable to grad students, esp. grad student workers, what should their universities/departments do?Report

Duh
Duh
Reply to  Wildcat
1 year ago

because universities don’t lose money by putting off promotions…that’s why they were quick to extend tenure clocks…Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Wildcat
1 year ago

I’m sure that’s right – but it’s not unreasonable. Things that can be done for free are always going to be easier and faster to do than things which have budgetary implications. That’s true in normal times and it’ll be doubly true now, when universities are braced for massive holes in their budgets.Report

A
A
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

I am worried though about the fact that only some pre-tenure faculty members NEED that extension whereas perhaps many more will TAKE it just to get some extra research done. This may put the faculty members who need it (e.g. because they are now providing full time childcare) at an extra comparative disadvantage come tenure time.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  A
1 year ago

Tenure isn’t zero-sum; nor are some (not all) academic allowances that might be made for students. The baseline expected standards for tenure are set by fairly long experience and aren’t going to leap upwards because of a one-year allowance in 2020. So maybe someone without kids at home (or other crisis-related difficulties) will get tenure when they wouldn’t otherwise have, but that doesn’t disadvantage anyone else seeking tenure. Mutatis mutandis for, say, increased time-to-completion for graduate students.Report

Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

Yes, I can see that lots of people have children at home—I’m one of them. But my situation is such that it hasn’t cut down on my productivity a whole lot. I imagine some are in my boat, others are in a more trying situation, trying to teach at home alone while watching 3 preschoolers, or something along those lines.

But (to keep the situation focused on graduate students) say one graduate student has three children now at home (due to daycare/school closures) and is having a rough time meeting her basic obligations. Another graduate student has no children at home and has found this time incredibly productive. Should time to completion/years of funding be extended for both graduate students? I think it should not be, since it doesn’t do much to help the fist graduate student, if the not-similarly-handicapped other graduate students are given more time and resources, expectations go up, the first graduate student gets a weaker letter compared to the second, and so on.

So by ‘unique’ I didn’t mean *rare* so much as individual, such that blanket policies, although motivated by good intentions, might not be so helpful.

Speaking now about faculty, my university has a tenure deferral policy in place, and one can apply for any number of reasons; it’s usually granted. So I suppose I see no need (at least for my university) to change a policy here. If one is incapacitated by anxiety, or novel childcare duties, or a sick family member, or whatever it is, related or unrelated to the pandemic, one can ask for a deferral. In the case of graduate students, I would think that something similar should be the case—that one can apply to the DGS for extra time, and justify it with individual circumstances. My graduate program had such measures already in place, and I would think that most do, for extenuating circumstances.Report

Reeks
Reeks
Reply to  Prof L
1 year ago

Labs have shut down. When I was a grad student, two weeks of being shut down would easily mean 6months of lost work since my experiments were longitudinal, not to mention, it would take months to get up and running again….Report

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Reply to  Prof L
1 year ago

I agree. In my case, I am a single mother of a toddler who is now home from daycare due to closures. I cannot get any work done (beyond a couple of emails maybe) while he is awake. As a result, I’m only just about managing to keep on top of teaching, let alone getting any research done. I hope in my case that either tenure will be extended or that they will lower expectations when the time comes. However, blanket extensions for everyone would actually disadvantage me. Imagine someone without children who is getting either the same amount or even more done than they used to, but with an extension or lower standards.Report

Emily Mathias
Emily Mathias
Reply to  Prof L
1 year ago

I am a little confused as to how blanket extensions would hurt. If a student is being productive right now, they just don’t use the extension. All the extension would be doing is allowing individuals to have extra time if needed.
As for another example, I am a grad student without a kid at home, but with the transition to online teaching, it feels like I have double the work because my students are emailing me more than before and I am doing a lot more damage control type tall than teaching. On top of that, my library is closed and the copy/scan resources are all being taken up by teaching requests – so my research is also under pressure because my resources are being limited. Also, emails to faculty for advice IS NOT ALWAYS THE SAME AS face to face. Grad students are missing out on that. Zoom only goes so far. Lastly, let’s talk mental health. How about grad students expected to be on par with faculty during this swap and treated like adjuncts even though we are also students.

We are being affected by this. Lots of us are less productive. This is just one of many reasons why I set up the Philosophy Grad Student Network. On there we are getting support that our universities are not giving.Report

Gareth Pearce
Gareth Pearce
Reply to  Prof L
1 year ago

I think it’s a question of burden of proof.
Introducing appropriate extenuating circumstances rules, such that individuals affected by Covid-19 can apply for extensions, etc, would likely put the burden of proof onto those individuals.

In some cases that burden of proof is easily met- a letter from a usual childcare provider demonstrating that they were shut, for instance. In others that’s really hard to prove. Some people are going to experience staggering drops in productivity due to the increased emotional pressure caused by isolation. Some people are going to be anxious about elderly or sick relatives or friends. Academics from poorer backgrounds might be facing increased family responsibilities for dependants that aren’t usually their responsibility. In more extreme (and hopefully rare) cases, quarantine means being stuck at home with an abuser. It’s very difficult to quantify these effects and prove them.

Sure, we can drop the bar for the burden of proof. In some cases this might not help as, for instance, individuals might not have realised the cause of the drop in their productivity (this is probably especially true in cases of abuse). Generally, though, if we were to drop the bar to such a level that it would avoid the above problems, what does that position offer that just giving automatic extensions doesn’t?

Moreover, whilst increased paperwork is usually a comparatively weak argument against things, increased paperwork at a time when people already have work to catch up on and are potentially recovering from mental health issues caused by isolation is very much not a good thing.

Granted lots of people (and I’m lucky I’m probably in this camp) are going to be able to get along as normal. Some of us have even had quite productive lock-downs! We’ll get an easier ride from a blanked extension and this might be unfair, in some sense. First of all, this is unfair in a kind of levelling down sense. It’s unfair that some of us have got an easier ride, but we haven’t got an easier ride at the expense of anyone else. Second, though in some ways in virtue of the first, I’m far less motivated by this unfairness than I am by the idea of making life a lot easier for some already more vulnerable people.

I buy that the present situation does not warrant an extension for all of us, but the process of sorting the warranted from unwarranted people would put an amount of strain on the warranted cases that defeats the purpose, and the process would fail to get the right answers in the most crucial cases.Report

Wildcat
Wildcat
1 year ago

My university has issued a lot of “recommendations” and few binding instructions. As a result, we have research assistants in labs all over campus as if there were no pandemic and instructors who left town as they were told teaching out of coffee shops that should be closed because their hometown internet isn’t strong enough for Zoom. Clocks and progress standards are not being altered, except maybe on an ad-hoc basis, which is a recipe for elevating the golden children and quietly purging the rest of us. And extra pay for our extra work? Don’t make me laugh. Basically, we’ve gotten the most burdensome parts of being students and the most burdensome parts of being faculty. This is only bearable in the philosophy department at my university because our workload is relatively light and our pay is relatively good for our cost of living; we can absorb the crisis OK, but not because of anything coherent being done to address it.

This is yet another reason for graduate assistants to unionize. Responses to a major crisis need to be university-wide and imposed without the ability for departments to wiggle out of them because ‘reasons.’ We have a collective bargaining meeting with the university next week to start addressing some of these issues. Hopefully for once they engage with us in good faith. That would make a nice change.Report

postdoc10
postdoc10
1 year ago

I appreciate the change in focus to grad students, who seem much more vulnerable than TT faculty. But it would also be nice have a thread about NTT faculty. They, as always, seem to be the most vulnerable. Of course, I suspect such a thread will be depressing, but it would still be nice to hear if anyone had some ideas.Report

Paul L Franco
Paul L Franco
Reply to  postdoc10
1 year ago

I’ve been asking similar questions about NTT faculty on a listserv at my institution, and so far, only one person has responded (on a normally very active listserv).

Tenure for the Common Good that released a statement recently that has some recommendations for NTT (and grads). It’s worth a read:

https://tenureforthecommongood.org/statement-on-equity-and-teaching-during-the-covid-19-epidemic/

And a colleague passed along a recent statement by the MLA on the listserv (which also talks about grads, too):

https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Executive-Council/Executive-Council-Actions/2020/Statement-on-COVID-19-and-Academic-LaborReport

HK Andersen
HK Andersen
1 year ago

We have an MA-only program. Our grads have options for alternative grading schemes, including pass/fail options and options that don’t affect their GPA. As Kenny Easwaran notes above, they have to maintain a 3.5 to stay in good standing (and eligible for funding), so this reduces the potential anxiety load. They can also take the summer on leave without consequence. We have been checking in with them individually as well.

Grad students are often the most precarious in terms of housing and technology at home. Suddenly being unable to use department computers, and also having to move tutorials to a virtual format, is a big shift that faculty with TAs can consider.

A dept staff member has set up a closed FB thread and Slack channel. These are nice ways to do little check ins with each other now that no one is seeing each other face to face.Report

Avalonian
1 year ago

In my view, grad students as a general class of academic are not particularly vulnerable or affected by this; the minuses, (say, for your average person at a PhD-granting institution in North America) are counterbalanced by several pluses: more time to complete chapters and papers, for example, and more availability from faculty who are also experiencing a reduction in workload (the commute alone is significant here). But we should *absolutely* be developing programs to shelter those who were about to go out on the market in Fall 2020. That is a devastating situation to be in and we should all be brainstorming ways to shield those folks from the worst effects of the mass hiring freeze that is sure to hit the field.Report

Marcus Arvan
Reply to  Avalonian
1 year ago

I don’t agree that grad students are not particularly vulnerable. They may not be particularly vulnerable right now. But if they are going to finish at any time in the next few years, they will be.

In any case, I agree that this is a devastating situation, and that our profession needs to have a serious conversation about it ASAP. Here’s one attempt at brainstorming: https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2020/04/covid-19-grad-school-and-the-academic-job-market-a-tentative-proposal.htmlReport

Morgan Thompson
Morgan Thompson
Reply to  Avalonian
1 year ago

It’s worth pointing out that not all graduate students have access to the “pluses”. Students who have children will face the same problems many faculty are currently facing. (Also faculty who have children may have *less* free time than before the crisis and thus, less time to mentor grad students…) Other graduate students may need to support themselves financially to compensate low incomes in high cost of living areas and as a result, may be facing the same problems as those in the food service and retail professions. Many graduate students may also be worried about elderly loved ones, who are often far away given the nature of academia. Or for international students, they may be deciding whether or not to leave the country with uncertainty about when they can renew their visa. The pandemic threatens to make the graduate students who already face the most burdens even worse off relative to their peers. We need protections that will systematically address the problems that will increase these disparities.Report

unconvinced grad student
unconvinced grad student
Reply to  Avalonian
1 year ago

I think we should exercise more skepticism about the general idea that people have _more_ time to distribute to whatever they like. This view seems pretty pervasive but I think it’s a bit dangerous.

We are all certainly forced to use our time in different ways. Barred from doing many of the things we normally would, we root around for substitutes. But I don’t think that’s necessarily more discretionary time. As a quotidian but significant example, even the basic tasks of life maintenance and upkeep are taking longer these days. It’s harder to find what you need, harder to get it. More time spent at home means a greater need for keeping the space you’re in livable, and it means accelerated forces of entropy around the apartment. No more outsourcing your meals to the cafe and your cleaning to B&G. And these are minor things– things we don’t think of. Obviously, the upheaval of having to replan, reconfigure and troubleshoot every aspect of ordinary professional life involves serious cognitive overload and takes an extraordinary amount of time. We could go on with this line of thinking…

There are many people in worse positions. And I’m not saying there aren’t positives or benefits this ordeal. But this is not a pseudo-sabbatical. Let’s not pretend it is.Report

grad student
grad student
1 year ago

No one is advocating for us at my university. For those of us finishing our PhDs, it would be nice to have extended financial support because we are leaving school without any prospects for jobs.Report

Curtis Franks
Curtis Franks
Reply to  grad student
1 year ago

I think that it is likely that one or more people are advocating for graduate students at your institution but that their advocacy has not yet led to any policy changes.Report

Michael Cholbi
Michael Cholbi
1 year ago

University of Edinburgh announced a series of measures today:
– “UoE will waive matriculation and continuation fees
– UoE will be happy to grant interruptions and/or extensions as appropriate and will discuss options with funded students
– UoE is working with funders to ensure that the extensions will be funded but we cannot say yet how this will work in practice as negotiations are still underway
– For self-funded students, there will be a hardship fund available to help tide them over.”Report

SelikHH
SelikHH
1 year ago

My university which is Strathclyde showed some urgency asking departments to be considerate and extend deadline etc. However, my department which is humanities, lack any humanity. No extensions and you’ve got to write an essay begging for one and stating why you need one. Not everyone starts uni with a laptop and all the Internet facilities etc.Report

Canadian Grad Student
Canadian Grad Student
1 year ago

My university has so far offered no assistance. I’m scheduled to defend at the end of April, but working remotely has made communicating with my advisor and committee a slow and imprecise process. I’m hoping to have my thesis done in time, but if not, I will be required to pay to enrol in the summer semester. From what I hear, the school will be providing no extra financial assistance and will not lower or waive summer tuition rates.
I have also heard from our union that the university has decided to cancel the summer contracts of all CI’s in every department. Supposedly the plan is that they’re going to re-draft the summer course offerings and get the CI’s to reapply. Being only a month or so out from the beginning of summer courses, this is going to be disastrous for many.Report

Michael Gebauer
Michael Gebauer
1 year ago

It closed.Report

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
1 year ago

The University of Toronto has created a Graduate Student Emergency Bursary, that provides emergency grants and loans. According to their information, the School of Graduate Studies ” can typically pay out emergency loans within 24 hours and emergency grants (if approved) within one week. Students can apply for both an emergency loan and an emergency grant.”

The Department of philosophy has also created additional sources of income for summer work and individual supervisors who have access to funding have in some cases provided additional funding for students in need.
We are also right now creating a fund for students who may take a bit longer as a result of consequences of the pandemic.

I am not aware of any official extension of deadlines, but my impression so far is that there has been quite a bit of flexibility in individual cases (for instance, some dissertations defences have been postponed). But I only have access here to a very small number of cases, as unfortunately, we haven’t been running into each other too often…Report

Phillip Barron
1 year ago

To anyone with an impoverished imagination (and/or lack of empathy) who can’t see how graduate students would, in very predictable ways, be thrown off by a pandemic – here are two examples.

First, most grad students fund their educations by teaching. Many grad students were already learning how to teach while in school. The burden of shifting to teaching online midway through the semester is difficult for even the most veteran teachers. More-so for novices. Whatever time you imagined was suddenly freed up to be more productive is actually being siphoned off by extended class prep, a deluge of emails from students, and endless links from well-meaning colleagues with yet another resource for how to improve your virtual teaching.

Second, we are cut off from our libraries. The PhD is a research degree. Do I really need to spell this out for you? Websites are not libraries. And for those of us who prefer physical books to their e-ink simulacra, not being able to browse the stacks and hold the words on a page is disappointing to say the least.Report

LarryR
LarryR
1 year ago

Compassion is always unequal, in relative terms. And that’s precisely the root of its popularity. The crisis is helping all of us practice, including those for whom compassion doesn’t come naturally. Early days, folks. May all departments and universities commit to the practice.Report

Max DuBoff
Max DuBoff
1 year ago

At Yale many grad students across the university have signed a petition asking for an extra year of funding for everyone, and some grad students of some departments have sent more specific letters. Too early to tell if such efforts will be successful, or even what the negotiating process will be.

I agree with Gareth Pearce’s comment above about burden of proof. If there’s a way to administer aid only to those who’ve been significantly affected, great. But if not, an inelegant blanket solution might be best.Report

Another Grad Student
Another Grad Student
1 year ago

I worry, judging by some of the comments here, that philosophers too have absorbed the misconception that COVID-19 is exclusively a disease of the elderly or otherwise immunocompromised. Even if it were, this would of course not mean that grad students are immune to its effects–we too have elderly relatives and some of us have relevant comorbidities. But this is beside the point. There is ample evidence that the virus can cause debilitating illness in young folk as well (yes, the mortality rate is lower; but one doesn’t need to be dead to have one’s productivity impeded). And besides the risk to our own health that all of us now share, we will have to worry about the risks to our friends and family. For myself, I seem to be in the lucky class of naturally asymptomatic infections. But I only know this because my partner has been dealing with a presumptive case of COVID-19 for nearly three weeks, which has left her–a healthy 29 year old–unable to go up the stairs in our apartment without gasping for breath. Needless to say, my productivity is shot. I share this anecdote in the hopes that some faculty might disabuse themselves of the notion that the only risks to graduate students and their families arising from the pandemic are indirect ones.Report

Ariel
Ariel
Reply to  Another Grad Student
1 year ago

This is a great point, and I think can be extended. A lot of people are going through extremely stressful experiences right now, even if they are not directly exposed to the virus. The worldwide economy is being impacted. Many international students are unable to return to their home countries, or unable to go back to the country where they study if they have already returned. Thousands of people have been dying of an infection that in principle could affect any of us. It takes a lot of faith in the notion that philosophy is an activity of the pure intellect to believe that none of this will negatively affect our productivity. What if we’re constantly worried about the state of the world? What if we just find it hard to be productive when we’re having to stay confined in a small space for hours every day? Many students are living in apartments with little direct sunlight, such that limiting time outside can seriously decrease their energy levels. I don’t understand why we need to personally be impacted by the infection in irremediable ways in order for this situation to explain a significant drop of productivity.

I’m sure some people have been fine with this and continue being as productive as ever. But for many people this global crisis has also resulted in a mental health crisis. And even for those who are not at crisis levels, it is perfectly understandable that their productivity would drop. Why is that not sufficient justification for extending deadlines?Report

Yet Another Grad Student
Yet Another Grad Student
1 year ago

One of the concerns I had, when COVID-19 started taking the shape of a pandemic was that most graduate programs are holding their grad students on a 9-month payroll mostly based on teaching. On top of this, these grad students are international students who used to go back to their country during summer so that they could afford their unpaid 3-months. With COVID-19, this seems out of question due to two main reasons: either (i) their countries have already closed their borders so that they cannot physically go back, or (ii) even if they could go back, no guarantee that they could come back, possibly endangering their whole future, or (iii) both.

I have not heard so far whether any institution in the US is addressing these concerns, but the fact that I am not hearing anything cannot be good news, since these are extra measures that need be taken rather than the de facto situation already covering situations like this.

Any ideas or input on this issue?Report

Wildcat
Wildcat
Reply to  Yet Another Grad Student
1 year ago

The graduate assistant union at my university has international student issues like this on our list of things to address. Our initial proposal was basically an employment guarantee for international students. Like you say, international students mostly can’t go home or return. But they also can’t work in the United States for any employer but the university and as far as I can tell are ineligible for the federal relief bill. Fair or not, the university is the only entity that can really help them, and so the university needs to commit to employing them through the duration of the crisis. I doubt admin will be receptive, since this involves spending money, but we are going in with this as a major issue we want covered.Report

worried faculty
worried faculty
1 year ago

Faculty member with PhD students here. I’m concerned about my grad students for many reasons but one is that, as described above, they are 9-month salaried and only a few of them receive summer teaching opportunities. Living on the salary stretched out to 12 months is quite hard in our (expensive) city. So many of our students find other jobs during the summer (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops, as well as more “academic” employment like RAships or finding teaching at other local universities). I’m concerned that there will be fewer of these opportunities for my students, and that they will not be able to afford to make ends meet. I am also concerned, as described above, that some of them go home to their families (either internationally or within the US) for the summer so as not to have to pay rent, and that this will be impossible for some of them. But I’m not sure what to do to help them–my administration is not about to produce money for them, as, like every administration, it is tightening its belt significantly. I think it is more common than many faculty think for PhD students to be in this position. (FWIW I’m at a well-respected, Leiter-ranked PhD granting dept…)Report