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Guest Column by eight GET-UP members | Calling on Penn to protect graduate and professional students

(05/08/20 5:24am)

In this time, we graduate student-workers at Penn find ourselves wishing more than ever that we had a union to represent us in ongoing campus-wide conversations that affect all our futures. Last month, the group of students (including Ph.D., Ed.D., and professional students) organizing as GET-UP for a union at Penn, circulated a petition to the community outlining our positions during this global pandemic. We have received over 500 signatures in support of initial coping measures. Our peers at Yale and other universities have been calling on their administrations to support graduate student-workers in this time. At Penn, faculty have voiced their support for graduate students, and made specific requests for the administration to amend timelines and fellowships to meet our needs under these extraordinary circumstances. But as the dust has settled, we look toward a transformed academy and economy that has drastic, long-term consequences for academia. 

Guest Column by Katie Rader | What Do Penn’s Austerity Measures Mean?

(04/27/20 8:38pm)

When Penn started sending weekly emails about the COVID-19 crisis in early January, it may have seemed like an overreaction. But by now, daily emails from the Penn administration about changes for our community have become all-too-familiar. For the past month, the messages have been about ensuring safety and security in this time of global pandemic. Penn set up a $4 million dollar emergency response fund to support staff and the local community, in addition to another $2 million that was committed by the hospital.  Part of the $4 million plan was a commitment to pay out the contracts of dining workers with Bon Appétit who lost their jobs when the university closed down in mid-March. This was a concession made in response to a public pressure campaign and fundraiser in support of these workers. In addition, the $4 million will go towards $1500 tax-free grants to staff. These are important measures that will provide much needed support to University employees. 

Guest Column | GET-UP committee speaks out on proposed sexual harassment policy

(10/27/18 10:05pm)

Several weeks ago, the University of Pennsylvania announced proposed changes to the process for reporting issues of sexual harassment in our community. One change is to designate a single staff member to receive and respond to allegations of sexual harassment from across campus. We are pleased that Penn is finally responding to urgent critiques raised by Graduate Employees Together-University of Pennsylvania, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, and others: When deans, department chairs, and peers of the accused are given the power to investigate sexual misconduct, allegations are often swept under the rug. When students allege misconduct by their employers, supervisors, or instructors, there are massive power imbalances that the University has not been mitigating. We hope this policy will be a step in the direction of changing that. However, there are several things that continue to concern us, as members of GET-UP, Penn’s union of graduate workers.