UA graduate student council studies workload, pay of TAs
By Hillary Davis
In response to graduate assistant claims of heavy workloads and low compensation, the representative body of the UA graduate student population is organizing a task force to address student issues.
Laura Roberts, president of the University of Arizona Graduate and Professional Student Council, is steering a committee of faculty and graduate students that is compiling a comprehensive report on working conditions of TAs - both on campus and throughout the country.
The report should be completed by March 1.
In a statement, Roberts said the task force was created to "ensure that we have a clear understanding of the status of graduate student workload, funding and support at the University of Arizona."
Gary Pivo, graduate college dean, said he was pleased that graduate student concerns are being studied.
"I'm really glad they accepted my request to put this together," he said.
Pivo also said the report would benefit by including "wide-ranging" graduate student views. A survey of graduate students conducted by the council will also offer student input.
Pivo added that the inclusion of faculty and administration members would round out the report.
"It's really a collaborative effort, and that's important," he said.
Masami Gross, one of the group of graduate assistants who spearheaded a petition drive last fall - bringing pay and workload discrepancies to the attention of UA administration - said she was glad the GPSC is taking graduate student claims seriously.
"It's kind of nice for me to be a voice on it," said Gross, who is also a member of the eight-member committee.
Gross said she was most interested in waiving the in-state resident registration fees, and giving graduate teaching and research assistants boosts in pay and benefits.
"We're treated much more like staff, like colleagues," said Gross. "If that's the case we should be offered some of the benefits (of staff)."
Roberts stated she hoped the report would lead to a better understanding of the lifestyle of graduate assistants.
"We (the members of the task force) hope that our report becomes a valuable and useful instrument that helps to contribute to the improvement of graduate students at the University of Arizona," she stated.