April 18, 2022
Dear University of Illinois Board of Trustees, President Killeen, Chancellor Amiridis, Provost Reyes, Vice Chancellor Pallares, and Dean Colley,
We, the undersigned faculty and researchers in the Global Asian Studies Program (GLAS) at the University of Illinois Chicago, write in support of the UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) Local 6297 and urge you to offer our graduate student workers a contract with wages and working conditions that will allow them to thrive at UIC as they continue to contribute to the mission of the university.
We acknowledge the instrumentality of graduate student labor and vision to our program’s establishment and continued success. As the youngest interdisciplinary academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and one that came about as a legacy of the activism of undergraduate and graduate students who persisted and fought for almost two decades to establish this program, we stand in full support of GEO. As we build and grow GLAS for the implementation of our degree program in the fall and in light of our small FTE, graduate students have provided critical and invaluable staffing support to allow us to carry out the research, teaching, and programmatic mission of the department. From helping craft the call to establish the program to serving as graduate assistants in the program over the last twelve years, graduate students have been key partners in our growth and success.
Moreover, we acknowledge the importance of fairly compensated graduate student labor in the continued fulfillment of UIC’s mission and goals. As a department that primarily serves undergraduate students, we recognize the role that graduate students play in their education and academic success. We call upon the administration to bargain in good faith with the GEO as we know that a strike risks negatively impacting all segments of our campus community. We worry about the impact that the strike makes in the academic progression and matriculation of our undergraduate and graduate students. The campus teaching evaluation process is being administered starting April 18 and we worry about the impact that the strike will have on what students will document on their evaluations, which will not reflect all the efforts the campus has made in making their learning accessible in light of the pandemic. These evaluations also have a concrete impact on the competitiveness of our TAs/GAs on the academic job market and a faculty member’s P/T at UIC. In other words, the disruption that this strike will cause will be at the forefront of our students’ evaluation of their educational experience this semester. We worry about the message that the ongoing labor dispute is sending to prospective undergraduates and their parents, especially as we just welcomed the admitted students to IGNITE two weeks ago and are about to celebrate another group of graduating seniors that meet such important milestones next month. We worry about the inability to meet the strategic priorities of the university such as providing transformative education and fulfilling our urban mission to Chicago and Illinois. We worry about the public perception that this labor dispute is creating in our surrounding communities and nationally. We would not like the strike to impact the values that UIC espouses as a public research university committed to student success, access and equity. We would not like the strike to disrupt the university’s current momentum where multidisciplinary research agendas and community engagement initiatives are advancing knowledge innovatively and where graduate program rankings are on the rise. UIC is certainly on an exciting trajectory but one that cannot be realized without the labor and support of graduate students who are critical partners in this endeavor. Settling on a fair contract is the only way we can truly serve our undergraduate students.
Finally, as mentors, advisors, educators, and supervisors, we see how inadequate wages result in graduate students struggling to pay for healthcare, childcare, and housing. These issues are particularly difficult for the international and immigrant students of color we have the privilege of educating, and who give us stature as both a global university and a dually designated AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution) and HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) Minority Serving Institution. We regard our graduate students as a crucial backbone of our campus community. Thus, as we espouse justice, access, diversity, and equity as core principles of our campus mission, then it is only fitting that we fulfill our obligation to every member of our community - our graduate students included- and enable them to carry out their work with dignity and thrive in an environment where they are fairly compensated for their labor.
Anna Guevarra, Founding Director and Associate Professor, Global Asian Studies
A. Naomi Paik, Associate Professor, Global Asian Studies and Criminology, Law, and Justice
Justin Quang Nguyên Phan, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Global Asian Studies
Mark R. Martell, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies
Mark Chiang, Associate Professor, Global Asian Studies and English
Clare Kim, Assistant Professor, Global Asian Studies and History
Fredy González, Associate Professor, Global Asian Studies and History
Nadine Naber, Professor, Global Asian Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies
Michael Jin, Assistant Professor, Global Asian Studies and History
Karen Su, Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Asian Studies and AANAPISI PI/Project Director
Gayatri Reddy, Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies
Ronak Kapadia, Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies
Mary Anne Mohanraj, Clinical Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies
Laura Hostetler, Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies
Corinne Kodama, Visiting Research Assistant Professor, Global Asian Studies
Catherine Becker, Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies
Xuehua Xiang, Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies