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Brown Graduate Students for Fair Funding

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To Provost David Kertzer, the Corporation of Brown University, and President Simmons: As doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Brown University, we are trained in the enterprise of critical evaluation, but we rarely have the opportunity as scholars to participate directly in historically significant shifts in our own communities. This is an exceptional moment at Brown, and we have come together as concerned individuals to offer a proposal that we believe is in the best interest of all Humanities and Social Sciences doctoral students, the Graduate School, and Brown University as a whole. We respectfully propose that the University, recognizing, as it has, that excellent scholarship in the Humanities and Social Science requires a minimum of six years of doctoral study, create a sixth year of guaranteed financial support, either in the form of a fellowship or a stipend-supporting work appointment, to all doctoral students in good standing, and create a small pool of competitively available funding for highly qualified PhD candidates in their seventh and eighth years. We believe that any policy that forecloses such a moment of opportunity for Brown’s doctoral programs is not only a mistake for students, but also for the future standing of Brown University as a whole. Brown has chosen to be a leader among prestigious research institutions; there can be no better way to distinguish Brown amongst its peers than to offer this guarantee. Bold actions such as formulating a Plan for Academic Enrichment, creating an Engineering School, and committing to the Slavery and Justice Report should be sustained and extended by a program that facilitates rather than compromises the progress of advanced doctoral candidates. All doctoral students are a long-term financial investment on the part of the University, an investment that is being jeopardized by the new policy regarding sixth year funding. Offering funding to all advanced candidates in Humanities and Social Sciences will radically and permanently improve the standing of Brown University as well as the quality and output of its present and future doctoral students: a yield that far exceeds the risk of such an investment. During this moment of crisis among our country’s educational institutions, Brown University should work against the trend of cutbacks and compromises by funding all sixth year doctoral students in good standing. This relatively small, measured action is the sort of strategic maneuver that would clearly demonstrate the University’s commitment to its vision and community while marking Brown as a leader willing to change the course of social and institutional history. Sincerely, Concerned Graduate Students

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