Academic Student Employees Demand: Keep Yearlong Contracts for Language Instruction at UCSD
As Graduate students, Teaching assistants and Community members in the Literature Department we want to express our deepest concerns about the proposed changes to the appointment of foreign language TAs. The department plans to end the practice of hiring teaching assistants for a yearlong appointment of 50% time (during which time they teach two quarters at 37.5% time and one at 75% time) in favor of quarter-by-quarter appointments. This change will harm graduate students and the department for the following reasons: The new appointment policy is a mandatory subject of bargaining according to Article 30 – Waiver of the UAW 2865 contract. Accordingly, University cannot unilaterally change the working conditions of ASE’s without first bargaining with the UAW 2865. The new appointment policy destabilizes the lives of academic student employees in the Language Program. Hiring students on a quarter-by-quarter basis forces them to endure having unstable pay rates, of not having their appointments renewed, and of forcing them to find employment at the last minute while risking the loss of pay and fee remission. International students, who are not allowed to teach more than 50% in any given quarter due to OGSR restrictions, will effectively be barred from teaching foreign languages at a 50% rate. These changes will harm retention and recruitment of graduate students. Without an employment guarantee, students will find staying in graduate school economically and personally stressful. The Department’s willingness to violate students’ acceptance letter – which promised employment teaching foreign languages for six full years – has already created dissatisfaction amongst the foreign language TA’s. Both this dissatisfaction and the instability of employment will make it difficult to recruit foreign language students into the Ph.D. program, particularly international students. This change indicates that University is trying to balance the books on the backs of language instruction at UCSD. The department has already been closing foreign language classes for the past year (even when minimum enrollments have been met) and only opened up new sections because they are responsible for employing graduate students for the full year. The effect of these policies has already been to turn away undergraduate students interested in foreign language study and to reduce the quality of language instruction at UCSD. In Unity we all say that we demand yearlong contracts be retained in the language programs at UCSD!