Crisis at KU: GTAC Stands in Solidarity Against More Cuts, More Pain

2/2/2021- Lawrence, Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kansas - GTAC (Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition, AFT-KS Local 6403) is protesting several recent University of Kansas administrative decisions in solidarity with professors, staff, and undergraduates from KU on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 outside of Allen Fieldhouse before the basketball game.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved a policy on Jan. 20th allowing Kansas public universities to suspend tenure and therefore have an increased ability to fire professors and staff. KU is the only public university considering utilizing the policy.

KU presented their counter proposals on economics which included a pay freeze for two years and no reduction of fees. GTAs (graduate teaching assistants) make $17,750 (before taxes) a year to teach at a R-1 state flagship university where out-of-state tuition is over $28,000, where the chancellor makes $650,000 a year, and where our endowment is well over $1 billion dollars. GTAs deserve to be compensated commensurate with our essential labor.

On Jan. 12th, a high-level administrator told a Zoom town hall of 300 people that those who are not treated with the respect they deserve should just leave instead of trying to make KU a better place for all, but especially for people of color. GTAC whole-heartedly opposes this claim. This town hall was called by Student Senate in response to KU “reorganizing” the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unit, which among many other things resulted in the week-before-Christmas firing of two well-liked staff members while simultaneously creating a new administrative position. You can read GTAC ‘s statement here.

This so-called “budget crisis” predates the pandemic. However, the problems before, during, and after the pandemic do not justify unilaterally overriding shared governance and systematically devaluing our institution and our degrees.

Workers at the University of Kansas need and deserve shared governance, job security, better pay and benefits, and to not experience racism. Everyone must understand the urgency of this situation and work together to demand a better university for all.

Published on: 2/2/2021