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Friday April 13, 2001

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Busy teaching assistants push for $1.5 million

By Eric Swedlund

Arizona Daily Wildcat

PHOENIX - If state lawmakers had any doubts about the overwhelming workload facing UA graduate teaching assistants, they had to look no further than the four congregated on the capitol mall yesterday.

A coalition of graduate teaching assistants planned to lobby legislators yesterday to approve $1.5 million dollars to hire more TAs and decrease the average work load, but only four made the trip.

Kameha Kidd, executive vice president of the Graduate & Professional Student Council, said teaching assistants from around campus showed

interest and support for the lobbying effort, but between teaching classes, writing papers, giving tests and grading, most simply could not

spare the day.

"This testifies to the importance of graduate students at the U of A," said Kidd, a physiological sciences graduate student. "We can't just get up and walk away."

Even though the low turnout may serve as a message about the heavy workload of TA's, Kidd said she would have liked to see more people turn out in Phoenix for the cause.

University of Arizona graduate teaching assistants are paid for 20 hours of work per week, but most far exceed that, some working up to 50 hours a


The potential funds from the Legislature would go to hiring 104 more

teaching assistants, adding to the current pool of about 1,200.

Jani Radebaugh, a planetary science graduate student, said that even though this is a crucial part of the legislative session as lawmakers work toward finalizing the state budget for the next two years, graduate students are also entering the most difficult part of the semester.

John Miles, an English graduate student, said yesterday's visit to the capitol allowed them to talk individually to lawmakers.

The graduate student groups have spent time talking with Tucson legislators, UA administrators and members of the Arizona Board of Regents to receive help in easing their workload.

David Menchaca, an English graduate student and Coalition to Organize Graduates Students (COGS) representative, said pushing for more graduate teaching assistants is crucial.

Menchaca said most TAs work much more than they are paid for and often have to reschedule and extend office hours toward the end of a semester, which resulted in a low turnout at the capitol.