Monday, November 29, 2021

Grad students must be informed

I would like to speak to an issue of vital significance coming before the graduate students at MSU. I refer to the efforts to unionize graduate employees of the university.

Although the Council of Graduate Students has taken a neutral stance, this should not be interpreted to mean COGS representatives or the executive board members do not have strong opinions on the matter.

Many COGS members are also members of the GEU, while others are purposely not affiliated. Neutrality is perhaps the most difficult position to take, as it requires a careful balancing act of graduate needs and constituent interests, while simultaneously subordinating our own positions for the greater welfare of all graduates.

COGS has been and will always be a strong advocate for graduate students at MSU. Some students do not believe this is enough, which is one reason the GEU is organizing. COGS advocates that graduates become well informed on the issue before deciding. COGS holds that the issue of unionization for graduate teaching assistants and graduate assistants is extremely important and a decision best made by graduates themselves.

As vice president for graduate welfare, I believe the issue to be the most critical issue facing graduate students at MSU today. Our role is to provide accurate and unbiased information with which graduate students can make carefully reasoned choices and an informational brochure, approved by the entire COGS assembly, is being made available.

One might expect GEU to have a bias and they hold no pretense at neutrality. The administration, however, is claiming neutrality. This can hardly be the case as they are in an adversarial relationship with the GEU.

In light of the many complaints I have received concerning the tactics used and the misleading information provided at so-called informational sessions for departments being conducted by the administration, their neutrality must be seriously questioned. In some cases, information of value to graduates for making sound judgments is being withheld and in other cases misconceptions about unionization at other institutions are allowed to stand.

I call upon the administration to honor their claims of neutrality more stringently or to abandon the charade. More than 25 state legislators have written to complain about this approach. Yes folks, this has reached the state House.

I urge all graduate students who might attend one of these sessions to come prepared with hard questions for both administration and GEU representatives. If answers are unsatisfactory or seem irrelevant to the issues, press them harder.

Read the COGS brochure, talk to your COGS representative, learn what you can. It is your future that is at stake and to let others choose for you would be irresponsible.

Marco Meniketti
anthropology doctoral student.
Council of Graduate Students
vice president for
graduate welfare

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