Budget Disaster

Good Afternoon

In light of the ongoing budget disaster, and in response to the March 29th System Connection from President Dunn, Chancellor Colwell has released a statement detailing the possible budget cuts that SIUC will have to take in order to meet the target goal of $30 million in reductions recommended by President Dunn. GAU has obtained additional information indicating that the $30 million number has been derived from an additional $11 million in reductions on top of the already planned for $19 million in reductions this year.

First, allow me to be clear: there are no plans for any GAs to be laid off. Our contract does not include a clause authorizing furlough days or layoffs. While some departments may attempt to save money via the non-renewal of GAs, departments cannot lay off GAs who have contracts due to financial need. Further, GAU interprets Chancellor Colwell’s statement concerning the sweeping of funds, that “it will not include graduate assistantships that are currently filled, even if they will be filled by a different student next year,” to mean that there will be no reduction in the graduate student funding for next year, though there may be a reduction in available positions. We are communicating with the Chancellor to confirm this.

Second, Chancellor Colwell’s message states, “we must reduce academic administrative costs through college or department mergers or other means.” While the Chancellor states later that his message does “not address the elimination of academic programs, since savings from program elimination will be generated more slowly,” the possibility of mergers may impact assistantships going forwards. GAU is currently monitoring this situation and the potential effects it will have on our assistantships: when we have any information concerning this matter, we will inform the membership.

That being said, what can we do?

As members, you can reach out to your colleagues in and around your departments and provide them with the information above. You can also attend the Board of Trustees Meeting this Thursday, April 6th, at 10am in Ballroom B of the Student Center. The agenda for the meeting is available here. You can also attend the town hall meeting with our local representatives this Saturday. You can also attend the meeting of the Graduate and Professional Student Council this Tuesday at 7:15, in Activity room A and B of the Student Center, where this will be an item of discussion. Finally, you can also attend the administration’s information session, April 13th at 3pm in the Illinois room of the student center.

More crucially, you can encourage your colleagues to join the Union. I know this has been something that we have asked of you before, however, never before has the Union needed your support as much as it does now. Without membership, many of the things that the Union does for you, and all graduate assistants on this campus, would be impossible. Without membership, we would be effectively crippled in our attempts to defend you all against the budget situation.

As a Union, GAU will be reaching out to Chancellor Colwell and President Dunn to gather as much information as possible in order to keep all of you updated. Further, we are in the process of scheduling meetings with Chancellor Colwell to ensure that any plan of financial action is in complete accord with his responsibilities under our contract. We are also going to be coordinating with the other Union bodies for a concerted defense of all of our rights as members of the SIU community.

In Solidarity,

Johnathan Flowers

President, Graduate Assistants United

 

From the President

Normally, I use this space to act as the bearer of bad news. This time, however, I have good news to share with the membership: last Tuesday, Chairs and Deans were authorized to begin offering contracts for fall of 2016, in spite of the on going budget turmoil in Springfield.

During a meeting Tuesday afternoon, Chancellor Colwell stated that the Administration had released GA funds to colleges to the order of 75% of the total allocation of fiscal year 2015’s GA budget. In doing so, he stated that he urged chairs and deans to appoint GAs at 50% contracts or, if a 50% was unavailable, make an attempt to find a second 25% contract to bring the contracted student up to 50%.

Further, Chancellor Colwell also stated that the Administration has authorized chairs and deans to appoint GAs for full nine month appointments, rather than on a semester by semester basis. His reasoning for these two pushes is grounded in the loss of 420 graduate students for this semester, and a prediction of even higher losses due to the budget crisis.

While the above is all very good news, there is still uncertainty: the Chancellor was unsure whether or not the proposed 75% accounts for the funds distributed to incoming international students to fulfill their visa requirements, or if the 75% also accounts for assistantships in the summer. GAU is working hard to get up to date information concerning these two items, as we will inform the member body as soon as possible.

That being said, none of this would be possible without the strength of our contract and the collective power of our Union. Our contract requires that Chancellor Colwell meet with us by request to discuss matters of concern to GAs, a requirement that enables GAU to better provide accurate information concerning the employment of GAs here at SIU.

Our contract is what enables us to proved the membership with the protections and benefits, including accurate information concerning our appointments, that we deserve. That being said, we can only maintain these protections and benefits through the strength of our member body. Thus, every victory that GAU wins, is a victory for all graduate students.

Speaking of all graduate students, I would like to take this time to restate GAU’s commitment to stand in solidarity with the struggles of the Coalition of Graduate Workers at the University of Missouri as they struggle for the very same protections that we all enjoy here at SIU.

In solidarity,

Johnathan Flowers

Wendy Davis at SIU Student Center

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As part of the lecture series for Women’s History Month, Wendy Davis shares with us about her book “Forgetting to be Afraid”. Her lecture will be accompanied by a book signing.

DATE: Monday, March 23, 2015

TIME: 6:00 t 8:00 pm

LOCATION: Student Center Ballrooms

COST: FREE

To find out more about Wendy Daivs check out her website.

Find out more about Forgetting to be afraid on the website

Lecture co-sponsored with Women’s Resource Center

General Membership Meeting, Thursday, Feb. 26 at 5pm

GMM 2-26-15

LPAC is seeking representatives

LPAC, the Lesiglative and Political Action Committee, is seeking volunteers. LPAC seeks to further GAU’s longstanding involvement in issues of political and lesiglative concern to SIUC’s graduate population. Further, LPAC seeks to demonstrate GAUs solidarity with other unions, political organizations, and social organizations that share in GAU’s aim of representing the needs of graduate students. In accomplishing this goal, the committee seeks to interpret both “political” and “lesiglative” broadly to enable LPAC to make proposals that address the political and lesiglative needs of GAU’s diverse population.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at gau.siuc@gmail.com

Membership Cards!

If you are a dues paying member and have not received your membership card, I probably have it!

I think it was American Express that had the tag line “Membership has its privileges”. Unlike a credit card, your GA United membership card SAVES you money rather than charging you interest. There are discounts available on everything from local restaurants, travel, and even major appliances. When you have your union card, you’re entitled to all kinds of savings. This is one way to offset the cost of being a member; which for most graduate students is a welcome thing.

Please contact me, GAU President, Bob Velez, either by visiting Faner Hall room 3172 (I’m usually there Monday – Thursday from about 8am to 3:30pm) or sending an email to rwvelez@siu.edu. I can even send it to you via interoffice mail if you send me an email with your full name and on campus mailcode.

When you receive the card, visit http://www.ieanea.org/benefits/membership-card/ and register using your membership number. You will receive periodic emails about discounts available in the local area as well as nationwide. There’s even an app for your smartphone!

Saving you money . . . It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!

Bob Velez
President, Graduate Assistants United (IEA/NEA)

Tonight, (Wednesday, November 19) Happy Hour from 8-10pm at Tres Hombres

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