On May 10th, you indicated via email that The Graduate School will no longer approve interdisciplinary graduate assistantships for graduate workers beyond their fifth year. This abrupt change in established practice, implemented without consulting the broader Northwestern community, pulls the rug from under the feet of advanced graduate workers and hinders the work of programs that depend on their work. We demand that you reverse this decision.
Advanced graduate workers funded by interdisciplinary assistantships work as staff for campus programs like The Writing Place and the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. Because these positions require specific training and experience as well as a long-term commitment, they have been filled largely by advanced graduate students who were approved to work beyond their fifth year. Cutting advanced graduate workers’ funding late in the Spring Quarter, when many other funding opportunities have already closed, forces them to scramble to make ends meet for the next academic year. These cuts threaten critical opportunities for the intellectual, personal, and professional growth of its graduate population, as well as Northwestern’s commitment to excellent teaching and innovative research in the humanities and social sciences.
While these cuts will burden graduate workers and campus programs, they are no more than a drop in the bucket for Northwestern’s savings. Certain graduate workers should not have to sacrifice their financial security and opportunities while others do not. That is not equitable funding. Neither does it account for the diverse needs of Northwestern’s graduate workers and programs. We, members of the Northwestern University community, call on you to reinstate the previous practice and allow graduate workers beyond their fifth year to receive interdisciplinary assistantships.