Graduate students at Fordham University are seeking support in their call for their administration to take various steps to help them, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its broader effects.
In an open letter, they express gratitude for some of the measures the university has already taken:
We appreciate administrative measures such as providing graduate students course work with the option of a pass/fail grading and providing graduate students who were close to graduation with the option of enrolling in 0-credit/0-cost courses in fall 2020. However, these measures fall far short of alleviating the excess burden the current crisis has placed on graduate students.
And they explain the need for further steps:
Those of us who work as instructors have labored more extensively and intensively than ever before to provide our students with a rich educational experience, largely abandoning our own research in order to do so, without any compensation for our efforts. Those of us who were approaching the end of our doctoral studies now face unemployment due to a non-existent academic job market and a shattered economy.
Critically, many of us who, because of the inadequacy of our stipends, work each summer in the service industry just to pay for basic needs may soon be unable to sustain ourselves in these trying times. Indeed, for many of us, particularly international students who depend on now-suspended university jobs in the summer, our very ability to remain in New York and to fulfill our obligations to the university are contingent upon some variety of emergency aid. Indeed, not only jobs, but also outside research funding has dried up, as reported in Inside Higher Education.
Specifically, they ask for:
(1) Noncompetitive summer funding of $3,000 for each graduate student to support immediate financial hardship.
(2) Extension of graduate student funding and time to degree requirements by a minimum of one year.
(3) Extension of international student visas, and specific consideration for the financial hardship faced by international students in this crisis.
(4) Annulment of all fees for graduate students.
(5) Fully subsidized health insurance and guaranteed zero-cost coronavirus-related treatment and testing for all members of the Fordham community.
(6) Full provision of dental and vision insurance for graduate students.
(7) Increase in stipends for graduate workers to compensate for training, increased workload in transitioning to digital pedagogy, and risk of contracting COVID-19 with the re-opening of campuses in the fall.
(8) Fulfillment of all demands in the Fordham Faculty United (SEIU), staff worker (Fordham COVID-19 Response Group), and undergraduate reimbursement petitions.
(9) Guarantee that the digital materials instructors create are the property of instructors and not of the university.
(via Ricky DeSantis)