Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price asked graduate students to reconsider their efforts to unionize in an email sent to the graduate student community on Monday.
The administration’s response comes after a group of Penn graduate students known as , an acronym for Graduate Employees Together — University of Pennsylvania, publicly announced their unionization movement earlier this month. Last week, 53 Penn professors also a letter in support of the graduate students’ effort to unionize, and more have since signed the letter.
“It would be impossible to overstate how extremely proud and strongly supportive we are of our graduate students and their essential contributions to research and education at Penn,” Gutmann and Price wrote in the email. “We are absolutely committed to supporting not only their current endeavors but also their future successes.”
Gutmann and Price argued that Penn’s relationship with its graduate students is “quite different” from that of employer to employee, writing that unionization would adversely affect the relationship between the Penn faculty and students.
“The relationship between faculty and graduate students at Penn has succeeded so well, and our commitment, to preparing Penn students for their future careers is so strong, in no small part because Penn faculty serve as mentors, not managers,” they wrote. “That clearly changes when the interaction — which would be governed by an external third party — is no longer collegial, but instead the subject of union rules.”
The email added that Penn has worked with existing student groups, including the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and other graduate student governments within the graduate schools, to increase “graduate student funding, mentorship, and community support.”