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Guest Column by five GET-UP members | Penn must provide funding extensions for all doctoral students

(10/30/20 8:30pm)

Early this fall, the School of Arts and Sciences announced a one-year pause on Ph.D. admissions. This decision came as a shock to graduate students and faculty alike, who had been neither consulted nor forewarned before the decision was made public. According to the administration, this pause in admissions would enable SAS to allocate support to “current students who require extra time to complete their degrees as a result of the global pandemic.” While this initial step by SAS acknowledged a real and pressing need, Penn’s responses to the crisis facing its doctoral students have fallen short. SAS’s decision to only extend funding packages for students in their final year leaves behind the majority of doctoral students earlier in their programs. Penn’s recent announcement about two payments of $600 to Ph.D. students across the university and the establishment of a competitive Presidential Ph.D. Fellows program also fails to provide sufficient material support for Ph.D. students, all of whom are facing significant disruptions to their research and studies.