Graduate students (with support of our undergraduate colleagues) at UCSC are on a teaching strike for the second week in a row, in order to fight for cost of living adjustment (COLA) that would lift us out of heavy rent burden. Many of us pay 50% or more of our income on rent. We have suffered for years with runaway housing costs, meager protections from our labor union contract, and an unsympathetic university administration. Between 2014 and 2018, our contract guaranteed an income increase of 3% per year, but rent increased by 54% over the same time period. Between 2018 and 2019 alone, the cost of housing increased by 15%. UCSC grads have very little power to influence the results of these contract negotiations - during the 2018 contract vote, UCSC grads voted 80% AGAINST the agreement, yet were outvoted by grads at other UCs with larger numbers.

With few options left, over 400 graduate teaching assistants (TAs) initiated a wildcat strike last December by withholding fall-quarter grades. The strike has escalated to the events of these last two weeks.

Since the teaching strike began on Feb 10th

  1. Dozens of police from all over the state were brought in after the first day. They circled surveillance planes over campus. Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer stated herself that the cost of police presence was $300,000 per day. By the end of this week, UCSC will have spent an estimated $3,000,000 on police escalation, which would be enough to fund a COLA at $1412/month for 177 grad students for an entire year.
  2. Police unnecessarily escalated tensions, brutalized a number of protesters, and arrested seventeen protesters. Several students received various injuries, and at least one student was treated for a concussion.
  3. EVC Lori Kletzer and UC President Janet Napolitano issued a threat to remove all striking graduate students from spring TA appointments if fall grades are not submitted by 11:59pm on Friday. This means that dozens of international students will become liable for out-of-state tuition and face de facto deportation.

Our Proof:

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We’re live at the picket line at the base of our most striking campus, ask us anything!

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Comments: 1119 • Responses: 5  • Date: 

BrogressiveTwat18 karma

Do you happen to know if newer admits are receiving better stipends? I have to imagine that at a certain point it's hard to attract new students when you can't cover cost of living

thirsty_for_a_cola36 karma

To our knowledge, newer admits are not receiving better stipends. In fact, many prospective graduate students have informed us that they intend to decline an offer to UCSC unless a COLA has been successfully negotiated before the acceptance deadline. It’s worth considering that if grad students do not receive a better stipend, then UCSC will become an institution that attracts only those grad students who are already financially well-off.

DJ_Buttons8 karma

What can people external to the UC system do to help?

thirsty_for_a_cola6 karma

One of the most effective ways that people outside the UC system can help is to put public pressure on the UC administration.

  1. Write a solidarity statement to add to our growing list from over 70 supporting groups:
  2. Call our administrators and public officials directly:
  3. Boost our social media and reach out to the press. Follow us on IG (@payusmoreucsc and cola4all), and Twitter (@payusmoreucsc and cola4all).
  4. Go to our website to find other ways to support us: