(USNewsMag.com) – On the eighth day of the Temple University Graduate Students Association (TUGSA) strike, the university made good on its promise to bill the participants for their tuition and cut their benefits off.
After a year of failed negotiations between the association and the university, the strike officially began on Tuesday, January 31st. According to a recent statement from the Provost, Gregory N. Mandel, more than 80 percent of the graduate students have continued working and chosen not to participate in the strike.
The members of TUGSA are demanding the university pay them enough to meet the cost of living. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, in the city of Philadelphia that would require that their pay be raised from the current rate of $19,500 to $32,800 per year. According to the university, it counter-offered a 3 percent raise.
The university has openly explained its reasoning for not agreeing to the $13,300 pay increase for graduate students who primarily work as research and teaching assistants. For one thing, they work on average 20 hours a week for nine months of the year making them part-time employees. Temple’s website says that what they currently pay graduate students averages out to roughly $25 an hour.
Additionally, graduate students do not have to pay tuition, a perk that is worth $20,000 a year. They are also given full healthcare and prescription coverage, a benefit the university says no other employee enjoys. The health benefits extend throughout the year despite the students having a total of three months off work.
On February 8th, the Provost issued a statement warning other students not to participate in the strike or planned walkouts as it would put their academic progress in jeopardy. The announcement claims that some of the instructors participating in the strike have continued to attend the classes they are taking while encouraging their students not to attend classes or complete assignments to support the cause.
On the same day, the university sent TUGSA strike participants notice that they would have to pay their own tuition for the spring semester. Full payment is due by March 9th. The TUGSA Twitter account shared a screenshot indicating participants’ healthcare coverage was being revoked as well.
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