Grads see game, find ways to remain happy in Pinch

GAU Happy Hour Pic #1Salukis nearly shocked fans watching the game against undefeated Wichita State University Shockers at Pinch Penny Pub on 700 E. Grand Ave., in Carbondale, Ill., on Feb. 11, with their 33-32 lead at the half, but the team succumbed to foul trouble and their opponent’s success at the charity stripe, dampening spirits. Yet, a group of Graduate Assistants managed to remain happy.

The Salukis fell to the Shockers 78-67 in Wichita, Kan., as some of the GAs who attended the Graduate Assistants United happy hour that Tuesday night at Pinch watched on.

With pitchers of Sam Adams IPA and Big Muddy Winter Ale, a medium-bodied local microbrew made only during the cold winter months at the Big Muddy Brewery in Murphysboro, Ill., the GAU cohort kept their spirits up.

Waylon Smeathers, a master’s student studying quality engineering and management, said he enjoyed the selection of beer and the conversation around the table.

“It was very informational,” said Smeathers, a Teaching Assistant in technology at SIUC.

Michael Fralaide, a Teaching Assistant in physics, said the happy hour “was a good time,” and he enjoyed the samples of pizza bread, fried veggies, corn nuggets, multiple helpings of complimentary popcorn and other appetizers at the union table. But he did not elaborate.

“I don’t have anything witty to say,” he admitted.

GAU happy hours happen regularly and are noted on the union’s online calendar.

Natalie Nash, a master’s student studying zoology, said when she set up her personalized Google calendar earlier this year, she made sure to mark down all the GAU happy hours. Nash said that while the union social activities are “awesome,” there are facets of University life that are appreciably less awesome.

“For every semester, one month of my pay after taxes is not even enough to cover my fees that semester,” she said. “So it’s basically a quarter of my pay going to my fees, which I think is ridiculously unfair.”

In the last collective bargaining agreement between GAU and the Board of Trustees at SIUC, the union negotiated a clause stipulating that if during the 2014 fiscal year, “mandatory student fees increase by more than 5% for the year based on an 8 credit hour enrollment,” the union could invoke the option to discuss a possible wage increase.

Prior to the contract agreement, fees had more than doubled from $1,096 in 2001, to $3,115 in 2010, according to the SIU Factbook.

GAU will deliver its intent to bargain in March. Meanwhile, several happy hours are scheduled, and the next one will take place Tuesday, Feb. 25 starting at 7 p.m., again at Pinch.



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