SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Graduate students at University of California, Santa Cruz said many of them will escalate their strike to include withholding their work as Teachers' Assistants and course instructors, according to the UCSC Cost of Living Adjustment Campaign.
COLA said many grad students will begin withholding labor on Feb. 10 and teach workshops and classes at a free university located on and off-campus instead. More than 60% of the students who attended a meeting Thursday night voted in favor of the move.
Since Dec. 8, graduate students have refused to submit grades until administration grants them a cost of living adjustment.
“Thursday night’s meeting showed that we are creatively working toward further escalation,” says History of Consciousness PhD student Stefan Yong. “A full teaching strike would be a means of asserting our collective power as workers and doubling down on the momentum the movement has already built.”
The free university proposed would serve as a substitute for canceled classes, according to COLA, and will include classes on topics such as the housing crisis, the UC budget and the history of activism on campus.
On Jan. 27, Chancellor Cynthia Larive announced two new programs to help graduate students struggling, but COLA calls the programs "absurdly inadequate."
Larive said beginning in fall 2020, it will offer five year support packages to new and continuing doctoral students. MFA students will be offered a two year package. The school said they will have a minimum level of support equal to that of a 50% teaching assistantship.
The other program will provide a need-based annual housing supplement of $2,500 for doctoral and MFA students until more graduate-level student housing is available.
Larive also said that if graduate students did not submit grades by Feb. 2, they would get a written disciplinary warning. Those who deleted grades would receive a student conduct summons.
"UC Santa Cruz has a proud history of activism, and the university is committed to ensuring that all people may exercise the constitutionally protected rights of free expression, speech, and assembly. And while I commend our students for drawing attention to a very real problem, I am extremely disappointed that some graduate students chose to do so in a way that was unsanctioned by their union and is harmful to our undergraduate students, many of whom are struggling themselves," Larive said.
Some students said a teaching strike would be one of their strongest options against retaliation, and said the strike will only end when administration guarantees no retaliation.