Category Archives: sociology

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

Advertisements

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.

Thesis Finished – Master of Science down, PhD to Go…

Last Thursday, at approximately 11:36 a.m. Pacific Time, I received the news that my master’s paper passed. Many of you know that it has been a long, hard road to get to this point. Many revisions of the paper, many sleepless nights. At one point I actually got stress hives.

But now I can relax this summer. You know, as relaxing as one can have while studying for a comprehensive exam (a nasty exam for PhD students). But I will not be teaching or researching over the summer, which means I can fish, study for the exam, and travel to the coast. How cool do I feel after finishing the masters? As cool as Ferris Bueller in Chicago: that’s how cool!!

Changing Locations to Finish My Thesis (a writing mini-retreat)

Happy Coffee
http://funny.funnyoldplanet.com/funny/happy-coffee/

My goal is to finish (or darn near finish) my master’s paper: TODAY!

But I am taking a short break from writing my master’s thesis to blog because blogging relieves stress and unleashes some creative awesomeness. As part of today’s thesis writing marathon, I decided to change locations from where I normally write/study. I chose a coffee shop instead of my desk at home, and instead of my campus office.

According to a post by the Thesis Whisperer, there has been ample research to suggest that taking a thesis writing retreat will benefit the writing process. The change of location can be invigorating. So here I am at a coffee shop for a mini-retreat. However, for my dissertation… I might take a month somewhere. I have already floated the idea to my wife and she seems interested. For her the “no” factor is always money… which makes sense. But the “yes” factor for her is travel because travel is fun.

I am thinking Seattle, Portland, New York City or Chicago could all be great places for a month long retreat. Almost anywhere in Colorado could work.

Have you ever taken a retreat (or mini-retreat) to finish a major project? How did it work out for you?