Category Archives: news

How Did These Graduate Students Improve Their Working Conditions? They Went on Strike!

(from the Nation, by Michelle Chen) On their campus set amid the idyllic northwestern woodlands, graduate students at the University of Oregon stepped out of their classrooms and onto a historic picket line last week. The union, representing some 1,500 graduate teaching fellows, went on an eight-day strike and emerged Wednesday with a final deal, embattled but triumphant.

The agreement, now set for a final vote, fell somewhat short of their central request for paid family and medical leave. Instead, the university will establish a “hardship fund” to support graduate students who need time off to tend to healthcare needs, including students who are not employees or union members. From a fund of about $150,000 ($50 per graduate student), students will apply for grants “up to $1,000 in the case of serious medical issues and $1,500 in the case of the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child.” Click here for the: Full story at the Nation, by Michelle Chen

Stranger than Fiction – University of Oregon’s Graduate Students on Strike

Friends… I know you follow this blog for fiction writing, foster care, and or marathon running. Well… sometimes reality provides great inspiration for fiction writing.

The University of Oregon Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) is on strike. They have been on strike since December 2nd. The sticking points in negotiation are two weeks of paid leave.

This is the first graduate student strike in the history of the University of Oregon. What makes it stranger is the bizarre comments made by the administration. Scott Coltrane, interim President at the University of Oregon, has said two-weeks of paid leave is not possible… even though he built his career on advocating for parental leave.

Corey Robin wrote: The GTFF demands are modest. Indeed, Eugene, where the University of Oregon is located, is mandating sick leave benefits for all workers across the city. But because university employees are exempted, the GTFF must bargain for them.

(An irony at the heart of this labor dispute is that the interim university president, Scott Coltrane, is a sociologist whose work is focused on family leave. He has been featured in The Atlantic, on NPR and was even at the White House last June to speak about the importance of parental leave policies. Such are the corporate institutional imperatives of universities today that his administration feels compelled to oppose such policies for graduate employees. )

The strike could end up making a mess of final exams,and final papers. As well as making a mess of campus.

The Daily Emerald reports:

The GTFF strike could result in a quite stinky campus. If an agreement isn’t reached between the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the university, University of Oregon’s garbage will not be collected.

The Teamsters Local #206 union, which includes Sanipac drivers, issued a 72-hour notice that it will not cross the picket lines.

It gets stranger, friends. The University of Oregon is willing to go so far as to compromise the integrity of the grades and diplomas it issues.

In the Register-Guard story, Diane Dietz writes...The United Academics, which represents 1,800 UO faculty, is protesting administration plans to — in some cases — assign final grades in GTF-led classes based on student work turned in up to Dec. 1.

“(The administration) politicized the grading system at the University of Oregon in order to limit the tactical leverage of the GTFF. They compromised the core academic integrity of the grading process in order to win in this labor battle,” said Michael Dreiling, sociology professor and president of the United Academics. “They’re using it, at minimum, as a power play or a point of leverage — to say you can’t win this strike. We’ve got grades covered.”

John Protevi’s blog had a strong statement in an open letter to the University of Oregon (you should definitely read the entire letter):

I urge you to give the graduate students what they’re asking for, cease the morally repugnant behavior, and manifest a little integrity.

Will athletes be academically eligible with the “integrity” of these grades compromised? Will diplomas hold the same value? Give strong consideration to what is happening at the University of Oregon… because this educational crisis is not an isolated incident. If tuition continues to rise for college education, where are these tuition fees going if not to pay the teachers? At least the football stadium looks amazing.

Currently there is a moveon.org petition urging the University of Oregon administration to abandon its stranger than fiction campaign against the graduate teaching fellows. I encourage you to sign it and share it with others.

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by The Oatmeal (Sep 30, 2014)

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by the Oatmeal

Book Description: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

Publication Date: September 30, 2014

This is not just a book about running. It’s a book about cupcakes. It’s a book about suffering.

It’s a book about gluttony, vanity, bliss, electrical storms, ranch dressing, and Godzilla. It’s a book about all the terrible and wonderful reasons we wake up each day and propel our bodies through rain, shine, heaven, and hell.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author, Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal, comes this hilarious, beautiful, poignant collection of comics and stories about running, eating, and one cartoonist’s reasons for jogging across mountains until his toenails fall off.

Containing over 70 pages of never-before-seen material, including “A Lazy Cartoonist’s Guide to Becoming a Runner” and “The Blerch’s Guide to Dieting,” this book also comes with Blerch race stickers. Find it at: (Amazon.com: Kindle Edition)

Orlando Jones – “Bullet Bucket Challenge”

Orlando Jones explained the Bullet Bucket Challenge to Fusion.net:

ORLANDO JONES: First of all, the “ice bucket challenge” sort of started elsewhere, and the ALS Association is a completely worthy and incredible organization. They’ve raised millions of dollars, which is kind of amazing.

Thinking about what has been happening in America over the course of the last week, it seemed like tons of celebrities had done the ice bucket challenge to bring attention to the disease. I wanted to do what ALS did, co-opt a viral thing and make it my own, to talk about the insanity happening in Ferguson and just around the world. My parents are like, “It’s the ’60s again.”

Will Disney’s “Frozen” score big during the Super Bowl?

Will Disney’s “Frozen” score big during the Super Bowl? I’m not sure if this is the type of Super Bowl bet that Las Vegas is interested in. But with many of the top films currently in theaters being geared toward men… and the fact that Frozen is awesome and appeals to men, women, adults and children… I would not be surprised if this film again returns to the number one spot in America this weekend.

The songs are infectious, the story is solid… and it has more depth than most Disney movies. Furthermore, this movie feels like an animated Broadway musical instead of just another movie. My wife and I have seen it twice already. If you have NOT seen the movie Frozen, and you are not interested the Super Bowl… this is an excellent Super Bowl alternative.