We the undersigned demand that the University of Colorado, Boulder include a student fee waiver as part of every Teaching Assistant (TA), Research Assistant (RA), Graduate Assistant (GA) and Graduate Part-Time Instructor (GPTI) contract. As a large proportion of the researchers, graders, and instructors on campus, graduate student laborers make the daily functioning of the University possible. It is absurd that, as employees of the university, graduate students at CU Boulder are being charged nearly two-thousand dollars annually in student fees.
We believe that employees should not be required to pay to work.
CU Boulder’s unreasonable student fees have a number of adverse effects on the university. An additional “tax” on graduate stipends strongly discourages prospective graduate students from attending CU Boulder. Departmental recruiting committees are embarrassed to report to newly accepted graduates exactly how much money that they will be expected to pay after starting a job here, compared to similar institutions. Some departments use discretionary funds to partially cover this cost for their incoming students, but relying on department-level band-aid solutions leaves smaller or less-funded departments vulnerable. A guaranteed fee waiver for every graduate worker is the only way forward.
Furthermore, paying to work disproportionately affects already vulnerable workers. Those on smaller appointments are required to pay an even larger portion of their wages in order to work. The income on our W-2s does not accurately reflect our financial situation, which may cause households to be ineligible for benefits such as health care for dependents and food assistance. More broadly, mandatory fees further limit access to higher education and academic employment by excluding populations who are more vulnerable to the immense financial stress of being a graduate worker.
We need a fee waiver, and we won’t be the first graduate students to win one. Graduate workers at other universities, including UC Berkeley and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, have guaranteed remission for their fees. Tuition waivers are standard for graduate appointments; fee waivers must be too.
Our compensation on the whole is unconscionably low. We can’t afford to live self-sufficiently, let alone pay to keep our jobs. The university cannot continue to take advantage of graduate workers by first underpaying us and then demanding some of that money back.
We demand a fee waiver for all graduate workers at CU Boulder.
Committee on Rights and Compensation
Signing this letter will help make graduate employees a priority.
Joining the CRC helps us present a more united front for grad students.