Comments from petition signers:
“Though I receive an additional fellowship and therefore am closer to a living wage than most graduate students, I support my fellow TAs in their fight to be recognized for the amazing labor we perform every semester” —English Graduate Student.
“Equity and justice, the integrity of graduate instruction, and UB’s future as an institution of higher learning all demand a living stipend for its teaching assistants. With UB subsidizing Athletics by $22 million a year, and the UB Foundation paying out $38 million a year in secret salaries and bonuses, it should be no great effort for the UB Administration to rebudget and start acting like responsible stewards of a great university” —English Professor.
“Stipend should be increased to at least $23,900 annually” —Chemical and Biological Engineering Graduate Student.
“Please give them a living wage” —Law Professor.
“Shameful not to pay a living wage” —Pediatrics Professor.
“Thank you! Let’s show we value this important teaching work” —Law Professor.
“The university must also provide enough funding for PhD students to finish their degree in the form of TA positions or fellowships. A four-year TA and funding line when everyone knows a dissertation takes much longer than that is plainly ridiculous and insulting” —History Graduate Student.
“Fair wages are a must” —Transnational Studies Graduate Student.
“There should commensurate increase in TA stipend with increase in tuition, because TAs play a dual role of being a student and assisting in teaching. Without many great TAs that I had some courses would have been terrible” —Electrical Engineering Graduate Student.
“When I was a TA in the English Department and Graduate School from 1968-1971 my $3,000 stipend was (barely) sufficient to live on. Times have changed, let’s make this still the case in 2017 and going forward” —Retired School of Nursing Faculty.
“Fair treatment is needed for us! We are not here to offer cheap labor. Each one of us is a valuable researcher, who upholds science” —Linguistics Graduate Student.
“It is vital to support our grads in a sustainable way before they seek out other institutions more willing to pay a humane wage” —Art Professor.
“I give whole-hearted support to this petition. They deserve a living stipend!”—History Professor.
“If the university truly values the role graduate students play in university life (teaching many of the essential undergraduate classes, for example), they must fund graduate students in such a way that graduate students can avoid going into massive debt” —English Graduate Student (Alum).
“As a Teaching Assistant, I was unable to afford childcare for my daughter so that I could write my dissertation. I have effectively been forced out of my program without completing my degree. Please ensure that future graduate students are paid a living wage!” —English Graduate Student.
“Students need financial security to produce their best work” —English Professor.
“My base stipend is roughly $14k. I am fortunate in having several scholarships on top of this, making life livable for me here in Buffalo. However, $14K is below what I have found at other universities. I would have seriously reconsidered my acceptance to UB if I had not also been offered scholarships” —Geography Graduate Student.
“I am in favor of increasing stipends so that Teaching Assistants make a living wage” —History Graduate Student.
“Adjuncts also deserve a living wage as well” —Art Graduate Student.
“Quite simply, it is impossible to live on this wage. I would not — and have not — felt comfortable encouraging other students to come here, based simply on the fact that it is impossible to live on $14,000 (especially when at least $2,000 of that is paid directly back to the school!)” —Geography Graduate Student.
“This is fantastic and super necessary” —Visual Studies Graduate Student.
“TAs need a living wage! If we are to fully devote ourselves to our teaching and classes/research, we need a living wage. Otherwise, we are forced to find other sources of income, such as other jobs, which take time and focus away from what is truly important. This also hurts the university, as the level of research and what we are able to accomplish is subsequently decreased” —Geography Graduate Student.
“TA stipends for sure need to be increased to a minimum living wage. The current stipend relies on external, unaccounted mechanisms of support (family, parents, husbands, wives, friends, favors), and where people do not have these personal networks, they are either precluded from such educational opportunities, or they are forced to seek external funds which take time away from their research, teaching, and can delay graduation dates, all of which hurt the reputation of the university. Having said that, I know I’m fortunate to have a TA line ($14k per year), as well as other smaller scholarships, and state subsidized healthcare, because I compare this to fellow PhD students who are given adjunct pay of $3500 per course and benefits taken away. That hurts” —Geography Graduate Student.
“It’s disgraceful that individuals who do important academic work are paid so little!” —SLIS Emerit Professor.
“There is no doubt that TAs need a living wage, please enable quality research and excellence in academics by supporting this” —Department of Media Study Graduate Student.
“Pay working students a living wage!” —Department of Media Study Graduate Student.
“I paid my full tuition in my first year. I got TAship without any tuition waive, and from my second year I don’t think I am getting any TAship from 2. year and any tuition waive, my department offered me a teaching position which is lower than a TAship amount and now I have to pay my full international amount of tuition and find my living expenses and try to focus on my PhD. It was not the quite case when I got accepted to the program. I know that my program is trying to find for me something for my education but it is lower than the minimum TAship. While a PhD is a ‘dedication’ PhD students should not die thinking about their minimum livings especially in ‘the most advanced country’” —Department of Media Study Graduate Student.
“Long past due” —Anthropology Professor.
“BTW, I heard the wage for adjunct instructor is even lower than TAs and since five years for graduation is almost a norm nowadays, a five-year TA stipend is really needed for students to put their hearts into research” —Economics Graduate Student.
“With the current financial crisis of the College of Arts and Sciences, I’m under no illusion that a significant hike in stipends could only be achieved at the expense of a dramatic reduction in the number of stipends awarded, and thus in the number of funded graduate students. However, this is a fight that ultimately needs to be taken to Albany, and I support the petition as a first step toward this goal. The most urgently needed adjustment is compensation for the horrendous fees students are required to pay.” —Linguistics Professor.
“Let’s do higher education right, not on the cheap.” —Political Science Professor.
“It seems myopic for an educational institution to tell its students that their TAs living with the day-to-day difficulties of penury is not a pressing concern while simultaneously expecting those students to believe that their education is the institution’s central priority. If shared respect for the value of the TAs’ labor is not a sufficient goad to action, I would think that the responsibilities of stewardship over the university’s prestige would be.” —Law School Student (Alum).
“The current stipends are simply not enough money currently for people to live. All students either take on school debt or work second jobs. It is time that all universities supported their students.” —Anthropology Graduate Student.
“It’s necessary to increase working students’ stipend considering higher living cost as well as their work load.” —Economics Graduate Student.
“We are desperate to increase the stipend.” —Economics Graduate Student.
“Teaching assistants are the ones who do most of the work. The least we deserve is a living wage. Full solidarity with my fellow TAs! ” —Biological Sciences Graduate Student.
“This is a monopsonistic arrangement that should be modified in favor of the graduate students” —Economics Emerit Professor.
“With the age and circumstances of most of them, PhD students, especially students with adjunct positions, definitely need a decent amount of stipend to support their daily life and work. How long do we have to pretend it’s not one of the most urgent issues to be solved on campus?” —English Graduate Student
“Stipends must be raised substantially but also TA lines must be protected” —Economics Professor.
“TAs perform invaluable functions for the University, its departments and the professors who perfectly understand the amount of pressure TAs are under. We also cannot forget the students, who often times rely on TAs as the only source of support through tough classes. I think few, if anyone, would object to wages being in proportion to TAs merit. And that merit is undeniable. I fully support my fellow UB students in their fight not only for livable wages, but wages that reflect a true acknowledgement and appreciation of TAs in our University” —Electrical Engineering Graduate Student.
“‘In 2015 SUNY Binghamton committed to add $600,000 a year to raise graduate student stipends to the 75th percentile in their respective fields.’ It’s a shame UB wasn’t leading this charge, especially when they claim a firm commitment to the UB and greater Buffalo communities. But they can and should follow SUNY Binghamton’s lead. UB: Please pay adjuncts and grad students a living wage” —Law School Office Assistant.
“Even with departmental funding, I’ve had to take out tens of thousands of dollars in unsubsidized loans to offset my living expenses and cover bills” —History Graduate Student.
“It’s shameful not to pay a living wage to the adjuncts, grad students, and part-time workers who provide the education many of us enrolled at UB to pursue” —Nursing Student (Alum).
“My mom is single mother adjunct professor and she earns an unlivable wage, forcing her to teach 15 credits a semester, which creates a burden on her physically, mentally, and financially. Educators are one of the most important occupations in our society and we should treat them as such” —Environmental Design Student.
“This is simply shameful” —UB Community Member.
“All workers need a living wage!” —UB Community Member.
“It is unreasonable that our GA’s get paid the least of all the major R1 SUNY institutions. We work hard and deserve more money to cover the costs of living” —Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology Graduate Student.
“I have experienced homelessness since starting the program because of the unfair financial expectations put on graduate students. I am also on food stamps and unemployment (since I’m on research year and not allowed to work). This is absolutely ridiculous. Please provide fair compensation for our labor” —History Graduate Student.
“A living wage is not peripheral but central to personal, academic and professional success. It ensures that students can focus and feel respected for the work that they do at UB” —History Graduate Student.
“As an institution that wants to lead, we lag far behind what other local institutions provide as stipends to graduate student and adjunct faculty members. We must do better” —Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology Professor.
“I believe that a livable wage is an important step in validating the hard work of all graduate students” —Romance Languages and Literatures Graduate Student.
“While reforms must be made, we should expect an administration to have a reasonable compromise. Increase, definitely. But recognize that an increase in 50% would be impossible, and foolish to start negotiations with. Shoot for 8%. They could stomach that. Or look for complete fee remission, as that is a hardship on the front end” —Philosophy Graduate Student.
“As a transfer graduate student, my pay has substantially decreased since arriving at UB , yet cost of living is the same as it was in the previous city I was living in. It is difficult to live a healthy and safe life when salaries are so low. UB also requires graduate students to pay the student fees which can be around $1000 per semester, which is very hard to pay when living paycheck to paycheck on a small grad study salary” —Geology Graduate Student.
“This is a vital change needed to improve the working conditions of graduate students and their ability to contribute fully to the community” —English Graduate Student.
“By making PhD students also pay their student fees (when tuition is supposedly covered) out of pocket, the promise of the stipend is at a minimum $2000 less” —Chemical and Biological Engineering Graduate Student.
“I should not have to work multiple jobs to supplement my unlivable wage at UB” —Global Gender Studies Graduate Student.
“During the fall semester of 2017, 7 out of 20 (tenured or tenure-tracked) professor in our department are either on a leave or teaching overseas. As a teaching assistant, I together with my colleague Ph.D. students shoulder the responsibility of teaching without hesitation to maintain the daily education activities of the department. On the other hand, I am struggling for my I-20 renewal in the coming year as I cannot accumulate enough fund to satisfy requirement from US government to legally stayed here and pursue my degree. I should felt proud as an employee for the University, but I could not with my financial timidity” —Geography Graduate Student.
“I chose UB five years ago because it once offered me the most scholarship among all the offers. I am in a wonderful department. Professors and classmates are very helpful and wonderful person. However, this year, the school cuts off funding and my scholarship and TAship decreased 8000 dollars. It is barely enough for me to eat and live. When I received bills from the hospital or other emergent accidents, it is purely DESPERATION. No savings. Live with other three people in a crowded house. How could we maintain a normal life?” —History Graduate Student.
“Needs a hella raise” —UB Community Member.
“My department has been providing a wonderful academic and emotional support, but I’m sick and tired with this paycheck to paycheck life!” —History Graduate Student.
“As a former professor and grad student, I can attest to the fact that so much of a university’s existence rests upon the underpaid labor of graduate students and contingent faculty. UB should do the right thing here!” —UB Community Member.
“Number of international scholarships should be more” —Biomedical Engineering Graduate Student.
“Disgraceful. I left UB to do my PhD at NYU, was paid 32,000 dollars this year” —UB Community Member.
“UB and its professors rely heavily on its TAs to teach material and support students – it should be expected that they are paid well enough to live, and to be prepared to support students” —UB Community Member.
“Many of my most valuable educational moments at UB were facilitated by TAs. They do much the same work as professors, with little to no recognition. Pay them them what they deserve” —UB Community Member.
“This must be done for the sake of the future of higher education” —UB Community Member.
“You have to ask yourself, what do you want in a school? If the answer is a quality education, then a part of that is paying your adjuncts and teaching assistants a living wage. I am 34 years old and I have never had a full-time job or made over $23,000 a year. What I have had is times when I have only a three credit class when I made almost nothing; I’ve also had times when I work about 60 hours a week at multiple adjunct and tutoring jobs. However, even if I work many hours a week I am still unable to make enough to support myself. The stress of not making enough to support myself takes a tole. My instruction suffers because I am so worried about money and/ or I am too exhausted from working too do much for my students outside of instruction time. I don’t have time to communicate with students; I don’t have time to attend events or meetings. In the end the old adage is true, you get what you pay for. If the University at Buffalo wants her students to be taught by people who have the time and energy to engage with them, then she should pay a living wage to those who educate. If the University isn’t interested in the education of students then don’t raise the salary of the TA’s and adjuncts. By doing this, the University can signal that education students is a minor part of the sports and STEM research complex that occupies the budged. Instruction of students is a serous task, and those of us who are instructors take it seriously. It would be nice for UB to reflect that sentiment by taking the step to recognize that instruction of college students matters by paying those who do this instruction enough so that they are able to support themselves financially and have the time to devote to students. At the end of the day it’s a value statement; as of now I feel that I am not a valued, nor will I ever be. However, if I knew that my employer valued me enough to pay me a modest but livable wage that would be a big shift. It would make a great deal of difference in many people’s lives” —Learning and Instruction Graduate Student.
“I am a third-year international doctoral student in the department of LAI, Graduate School of Education. I’m completely self-funded and I have to pay about $26,000 each year for tuition and fees. Most of the money were borrowed from the bank or from my relatives. Since there are no undergraduates in my department, the positions for TA is few and the positions of GA/RA is also rather limited. I applied for a GA/RA position each semester, but all my efforts were in vain. In order to minimize my living cost, I just spend $60 on my food bill each month and sometimes I went to the Food Pantry held by the church to seek help. I feel like a beggar more than a PhD student.This financial hardship makes me feel ashamed and desperate. I’m not sure whether I can complete my PhD program in this miserable situation. But who cares? The school cares nothing but the payment of my tuition and fees” —Learning and Instruction Graduate Student.
“If UB continues to pay graduate students a non-living wage, we will lose more and more prospective students to places that are willing to pay these students what they’re really worth” —Chemistry Graduate Student.
“The fact that we are a research university is felt most severely in the hard sciences and engineering fields. When our instructors are too busy, the value of our TA’s is unequivocal” —Electrical Engineering Graduate Student.
“Adjunct professors should be paid a living wage. If you have a PhD you should not be forced to go on SNAP to pay for groceries” —Political Science Graduate Student.
“UB needs to make a binding promise to cover ALL additional “fees” with graduate stipends, not just “tuition”, which at UB is an arbitrary and abused category” —UB Community Member.
“Adjuncts can’t survive either and some of us work circles around those with six figures” —UB Community Member.
“I am in support of increasing the stipend for TAs at UB” —Chemistry Graduate Student.
“As a former Graduate Assistant, I think this is long overdue!” —Education Graduate Student.
“The stipend is barely livable” —Geography Graduate Student.
“We do not want to be distracted from our research because of financial issue, and our hard work deserve a better payment” —Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering Graduate Student.
“Thank you!” —Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology Graduate Student.
“I am a graduate student and fully support my fellow TA’s and GA’s. I have had to take out substantial student loans to cover my housing as well as childcare to come to school here. I can not imagine the burden our PhD students and adjuncts are facing with the length of their programs and the amount they must front in order to be here. It is high time we showed support for our students and staff. I don’t know if I will be able to afford to cover another $40k in housing per year just to stay here for my PhD work. Something has to change” —Education, Leadership and Policy Graduate Student.
“I was TA for my first semester in UB, my salary was about $1400/month (after tax) and I needed to save more than $200/month to pay the $1300 fee (for the unknown purpose: what are Campus Life Fee, Academic Excellence Fee, Intl Student Service Fee?? Why they increase with the number of credits?) for next semester. As a new student who didn’t have a car, I had to live somewhere near campus and the rent for the apartment will be more than $500/month. (The rent for the on-campus apartment is even more horrible.) Only about $700 remained for buying books, paying food (of course cook by myself, because it’s about 7 to 9 dollars per meal in campus dining), electricity, gas, wifi, and cell phone plan every month. Even didn’t think about saving money for a flight ticket to go back to my country in summer vacation. If I get any dental problem, I would be under debate because the dental insurance offer by UB is very crappy. Fortune enough, I am not TA anymore, but for the students who are TA currently, must be suffered a lot because the fee and the rent for the apartment surround campus keep increasing every semester” —Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering Graduate Student.
“I greatly appreciate the stipend that is provided and the hourly wage is above that of any job I have ever had. However I believe that the stipend should go up according with inflation. My rent has increased this year but I do not have any additional funds to cover the difference” —Communicative Disorders Graduate Student.
“TA pay is prohibitive for undertaking graduate school while trying to support a family” —Electrical Engineering Graduate Student.
“1. Tuition fees are covered, but the remaining fees are still borne by the student. 2K every semester is hard to get. 2. IF you want UB students to do well and improve the school’s name and ranking, perhaps pay them more so they can buy things other than noodles to survive” —Epidemiology and Environmental Health Graduate Student.
“I have learned from my graduate student friends that their work is so often overlooked because of the needs of the Professors. Not only do they get poverty wages, they are also overworked” —UB Community Member.
“I support a living wage for GA’s and TA’s” —Learning and Instruction Professor.
“The university raises tuition nearly every year and while I like many graduate students receive free tuition due to my position at the university I am still required to pay my own students fees and health insurance which is very difficult to do while supporting myself on my meager wage. This wage, by the way is not subject to federal wage regulation laws. This I feel is criminal, if I am to be paid a wage lower than minimum wage workers it makes me feel as though UB does not value my services and yet the university could not function without the cheap teaching and research provided by its graduate student employees such as myself” —Physics Graduate Student.
“Give TAs a Livable wage!” —Management Graduate Student (Alum).
“I am so very grateful for my TAs and the support they gave me during my difficult classes. Many TAs went above and beyond and the work they do supports the professors substantially. I am signing this petition to ask for their work to be seen for the value it is, as you are preparing them as they prepare their students for life!” —UB Community Member (Alumni, McNair Scholar, Acker Scholar and Schomburg Fellow).
“Buffalo is a place where a dollar goes a long way in terms of many necessities, especially housing. We should not have to beg for a living wage. Please remember how much of the burden of instruction TAs” —Communicative Disorders Graduate Student.There would be no University w/o the labor of the graduate student instructors. That they are not paid a living wage is sad and terrible injustice. It should end. –Philosophy Graduate Student.
“The current administration is beneath contempt, and the fact that the undersigned have not yet removed the aforesaid administration–by force if necessary–demonstrates a degree of patience and capacity for forgiveness that borders on saintly. They deserve neither the loyalty nor the acquiescence of free people” —Law School Alum.
“Not only the pay is unlivable, TA task is heavy and the pay doesn’t match for such hard work” —Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Student.
“There would be no University w/o the labor of the graduate student instructors. That they are not paid a living wage is sad and terrible injustice. It should end” —Philosophy Graduate Student.
“I could not live off of my stipend when I was a student. It was one of the reasons I transferred out” —Former Philosophy TA.
“I currently take loans to supplement my stipend and would like a wage increase to be able to afford basics (apartment, car, phone, etc.)” —Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology Graduate Student.
“Stipends that are not competitive compromise the ability to recruit top notch graduate student talent” —Romance Languages and Literatures Professor.