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Teaching assistants deserve more

By Benjamin Couch
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 6, 1999
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To the editor,

The title of Friday's editorial, "Teaching assistants deserve pay increase," was deceptive, since the article only glancingly supported a pay increase for teaching assistants at the University of Arizona. The rest of the article was devoted to unfairly bashing the people who work tirelessly at an apparently thankless job.

Teaching assistants get paid for working "less than 30 hours a week;" I generally work a full forty-hour week, as do most of my colleagues, not because I'm getting paid for it, but because I care about my students. Part of this is because the teaching loads for graduate assistants at this university are heavier than at many of our peer institutions. First, that means undergraduates don't get what they pay for: the teaching assistant's time. I could do a much better job teaching if my load weren't so heavy. Second, that means teaching assistants aren't getting paid for all of the hard work they do. And this is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a job at a clothing store in the mall! My B.A. cost about $60,000. I am a trained professional, not a seasonal employee! And I have no other way to support myself while the university exploits my love for what I do by paying me as little as possible for as much work as possible.

These demands are not a "negotiation tactic." We expect to get everything we are asking for. Our peer universities do not charge "registration fees," nor do they load on such heavy teaching expectations. They provide health benefits and child care. We are not overstating what we want; we are asking for what we deserve.

Benjamin Couch

English graduate student

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