Resolution in Support of Graduate Employees and Their Demands for Fairer and More Dignified Compensation

Date of Notice:
Current Status:


Pedro Garcia-Caro (CAS - Romance Languages, Senator); Bjorn Smars (CAS - English, Senator); Stephen Rust (CAS - English, Senator); Jane Cramer (CAS - Political Science, Senator); Barbara Muraca (CAS - Philosophy & Environmental Studies, Senator); Ravi Cullop (ASUO Academic Student Senator); Maria Soto Cuesta (ASUO Academic Student Senator); Raoul S. Lievanos (CAS - Sociology, Senator)


Section I

1.1  WHEREAS the Mission Statement of the University of Oregon states: “We strive for excellence in teaching, research, artistic expression, and the generation, dissemination, preservation, and application of knowledge. We are devoted to educating the whole person, and to fostering the next generation of transformational leaders and informed participants in the global community. Through these pursuits, we enhance the social, cultural, physical, and economic wellbeing of our students, Oregon, the nation, and the world” [Emphasis added]; and  “We value our diversity and seek to foster equity and inclusion in a welcoming, safe, and respectful community”; and  “We value our shared charge to steward resources sustainably and responsibly”; and  

1.2  WHEREAS the HOPE Center’s 2023 Student Basic Needs Survey report for the University of Oregon indicates:  57% of 2781 UO students who responded to the survey reported experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, and/or homelessness; and  38% of respondents “experienced limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food in a socially acceptable manner in the prior 30 days”; and  16% of respondents reported experiencing marginal food security, 16% of respondents reported experiencing low food security, and 22% of respondents reported experiencing very low food security; and  40% of respondents “experienced one or more challenges that prevented them from having a safe, affordable, and consistent place to live in the previous year”; and   13% of respondents “did not have a fixed, regular, and adequate place to live at some point during the previous year”; and 47% of respondents reported that “emotional or mental difficulties hurt their academic performance 3 or more days in the last 4 weeks of taking classes”; and   

1.3  WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service’s “Changes in Consumer Price Indexes, 2021 through 2024” data set reports that the annual food price increase in 2022 was 9.9%, whereas the annual food price increase in 3.9% in 2021; and  

1.4  WHEREAS public health research studies find that food insecurity negatively impacts students’ academic performance and has implications on student retention (Weaver, et al., 2020; & Beam, et al., 2023); and  Food insecurity " disproportionately affects Students of Color, first-generation college students, and students of limited financial means who may already be at an academic disadvantage owing to lifetime exposure to food insecurity and unequal opportunities to learn in the K–12 public school system” (Camelo and Elliot, 2019); and  Greater food security is associated with lower rates of mental illness and stress (Martin, et al., 2016) whereas greater food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and stress among graduate students (Coffino, et al., 2021); and  Food insecurity is associated with lower graduation rates and lower completion of undergraduate, advanced graduate, and professional degrees, especially among first-generation students (Wolfson, et al., 2021); and  

1.5  WHEREAS the University of Oregon’s emergency food assistance and housing assistance programs provide limited and unstable support options that address the symptoms of food insecurity and housing insecurity but not the root causes; and   

1.6  WHEREAS the living wage in Eugene for a single adult with no children is calculated at $2,996 per month or a minimum wage of $17.29 an hour (Glasmeier, 2023); and  

1.7  WHEREAS the median gross rent in Eugene rose 7.55% between 2019 and 2021 from $1,099/month to $1,182/month; and in 2021 55% of renters in Eugene were cost-burdened, and 31% of renters were severely cost-burdened ("Envision Eugene Growth Monitoring Annual Report 2012-2022"); and   The October 2023 median rental cost for apartments and condos in Eugene is $1,492 (“Eugene, OR Rental Market”, viewed Nov. 2, 2023), or 72.497% of the university’s proposed raise of $2058.59 for GE 1 in the 2023-24 academic year; and  

1.8  WHEREAS graduate employees (GEs) are both students and some of the poorest compensated employees; and  

1.9  WHEREAS the University of Oregon’s wages for GEs are among the lowest when compared with peer institutions (GTFF, “Recruitment & Retention: A Guide to Competitive Graduate Salaries,” Aug. 3, 2023), which reduces the competitiveness of the UO’s graduate programs to attract and retain top talented doctoral students who would otherwise contribute significantly to the university’s research mission and prestige as a Tier 1 research university; and  

1.10  WHEREAS graduate employees are valuable employees who have highly specialized expertise and skill sets, who contribute significantly to the university’s mission statement through their labor, and whose labor is crucial for the university to function; and   

1.11  WHEREAS a labor strike by GEs would be catastrophic for the university, could have grave consequences for graduating students, international students, and students receiving financial aid, and could negatively impact student retention at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; and   

1.12  WHEREAS the 2023 Academic Continuity Plan provides a “framework to guide planning and decision-making in the event that a significant disruption to campus operations impedes academic activity” but does not yet provide clear guidance or suggestions for which decisions regarding academic continuity the university administration should make in the event of a labor strike; and  

1.13  WHEREAS the appointment of full replacement Instructors of Record (IOR) in classes where the original IOR is a striking GE may lead to the cancelling of international visas and cessation of health care coverage for striking GTs, to mention two possible impacts, in the event of an extended labor strike lasting a majority of an academic term and would represent a hostile takeover response to a labor strike,  further eroding the university’s climate, threatening to undermine academic integrity by removing the original IOR’s; and  

1.14  WHEREAS it is imperative that the university administration receives informed guidance from the Senate through its delegated committee, the Academic Council to ensure that academic integrity is both prioritized and maintained during the decision-making process, that the rights of the GTFF to lawfully strike are respected in the decision-making process, and that the university administration makes decisions only after careful deliberation of the available options and in consultation with the Academic Council; 

Section II

2.1  BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the University Senate advocates for prompt negotiations and fair resolutions between the university administration and the GTFF to avert any potential academic disruption resulting from a strike; and   

2.2  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate acknowledges the grave threat of food insecurity and housing insecurity to the physical, mental, and economic well-being of all University of Oregon students, and the implications this threat has on students’ academic progress and on the intellectual labor that is the foundation of the university’s mission; and  

2.3  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate is committed to a fair and dignified compensation that reflects both the value and importance of graduate employees’ labor and other contributions to the University of Oregon; that contributes positively to the physical, mental, and economic wellbeing of graduate employees by ensuring consistent and stable access to basic needs, including food and housing; and that increases the university’s ability to attract and retain top talented doctoral students by offering competitive graduate compensation packages that are on a par with the university’s peer institutions; and  

2.4  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate remains committed to the principles that inspired the original Academic Continuity Plan, namely “academic integrity; transparency for students, instructors, and staff; and fairness for students,” and will closely monitor the implementation of the Continuity Plan to ensure these principles are always upheld and prioritized over decisions for academic continuity that simply seek to avoid disruption to the status quo; and  

2.5  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate urges the Academic Council to update the Fall 2023 Academic Council Recommendations for Continuity for Winter 2024 to clearly establish how the proposed actions for academic continuity uphold the principles of “academic integrity; transparency for students, instructors, and staff; and fairness for students,” where academic integrity is defined by the Academic Integrity Task Force’s 2014 report as follows: “The true instructors of record (i.e., faculty and GTFs/GE) should maintain control and choice over how to manage their courses, assignments, final exams and grades. This includes submission of final grades. This principle is a bedrock of academic freedom, academic integrity, and professional ethics,” (“APPENDIX D Report of Academic Integrity Task Force”, p. 14); and  

2.6  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate urges the university administration to approach the academic continuity decision-making process carefully and in close consultation with the Academic Council and the University Senate for the purpose of preserving academic integrity, avoiding further erosion of the university’s climate, participating in good faith in the shared governance process, and respecting the important role of graduate employees within the academic mission of the university. 

Motion History

  • Notice Given

  • Approved