COGS holds IMU 'Grade-In'


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Audrey Coleman sat in the IMU on Tuesday with a small stack of blue book exams in front of her, a grading rubric in hand, and assorted protest signs spread out behind her.

"The university works because we do," one read in blue text.

The University of Iowa teaching assistant in history said this semester of instructing left her with roughly 80 assignments to grade in addition to 20 of her own to complete.

"It's hard to balance, but one doesn't take priority over the other," Coleman said. "My students' work doesn't suffer, but I don't want my school work to suffer, either."

On Tuesday, the UI Campaign to Organize Graduate Students staged a "Grade-In" in the lobby of the IMU, with teaching assistants from various departments grading students' work in public.

The event was another attempt to garner attention from UI and state officials in an effort to voice their concerns with declining state appropriations and TA compensation.

"[The Grade-In] is essentially a way of publicizing the fact that what we do is work, and it deserves to be compensated fairly," said COGS President Kari Thompson.

The organization is in the midst of a closed bargaining session with UI officials and representatives from the state Board of Regents, discussing a potential raise for graduate-student employees and many other issues.

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"I don't know if [the Grade-In] will be taken into consideration during the bargaining," said John Keller, the dean of the Graduate College. "But I think our positioning on the assistantships is that they're a meaningful representation of what the graduate students do."

Meanwhile, other UI students plan to direct their concerns to state legislators.

Members of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students discussed sending letters to their local legislators over winter break regarding potential tuition increases, which would be proposed during the regents' meeting in February.

Harb Harb, a fourth-year student in the UI Carver College of Medicine and president of the medical-student government, said he plans to send a letter outlining a possible tuition cap for medical students — in which tuition would not change over the four years in medical school.

"I would like those we are writing to to know that tuition is something that we as students are thinking about, and there are reasonable approaches to address these issues," Harb said.

Members of the graduate and undergraduate student governments at all three state universities are also planning to travel to Des Moines during the legislative session to further push tuition issues, said Lyndsay Harshman, the president of the Executive Council.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said students should not wait until regents discuss tuition before showing concern about the matter. Rather, this is something she felt they could have addressed at the November election polls.

"There's a lot students can do in terms of meeting with legislators and making the case of why it's important to keep tuition low," Mascher said. "But we're constantly doing what we can to address these issues."

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