Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JANUARY 28, 2015 5:00 AM

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Reimburse graduate-student fees

As President of COGS, I represent a group of graduate students who are advocating for a better future for the next generations of graduate students. We are deeply concerned about the sustainability of excellence in teaching and research here at the University of Iowa. In order to maintain high standards, we are committed to sustaining a diverse graduate student body where scholars from all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds can excel. This is why we have worked so hard for 100 percent tuition waivers and 100 percent fee reimbursement. We should not pay to work. We should not be driven into a pit of debt and poverty that will plague us for the rest of our lives. We urge Iowa City and the entire state of Iowa to recognize how hard we work for this institution and to help us gain respect for our contributions. Please stand with us in demanding 100 percent fee reimbursement.

Jeannette Gabriel

Here at the University of Iowa, many undergraduates sit on the knife’s edge, because (unlike most colleges) there is only one rhetoric class required, not two. As a graduate student and rhetoric instructor, I have graded papers of upperclassmen and found that many students graduate from here without basic composition skills. This lack jeopardizes their ability to succeed in other classes, graduate on time, and find jobs after college — which for many students is their one ticket out of poverty. I am keenly aware that if we graduate students don’t teach our students how to write well, then likely no one will.

Yet even as my colleagues and I shoulder the heavy responsibility of preparing our bewildered undergrads for four years of successful college writing, we are also expected to take a full graduate course load, research, publish, attend conferences on tiny budgets, pay rent in the most expensive city in Iowa — and in many cases, due to graduate fees that cut into our sub-poverty stipends, either work second jobs or garner further student debt. I myself let someone stick a needle in my arm to sell my plasma every week. In such circumstances, even grad students with the best of intentions can find themselves demoralized, distracted, and treating their students as afterthoughts. Our students deserve better.

Simply put, charging fees of grad students shortchanges undergraduates of a quality education, which defeats the purpose of the university and contributes to the alarming larger trend of students graduating unprepared for the job market. Eliminating graduate fees altogether would go a long ways toward helping graduate students do our jobs and help our students. Please encourage the Board of Regents to reimburse graduate-student fees completely.

Jacob Bender

I am a graduate student in the Communication Studies Department at the UI. While I personally am lucky enough to be on fellowship from the university and thus face less pressing concern with finances than many of my peers, I see how much the almost $1,000 in fees affects my colleagues’ mental health and financial well-being. It is absurd for a university that often does not even offer its employees sufficient training in teaching to expect to pay back some of the money they earn, especially when we only earn about $15,000 a year. An institution of education especially should not be taking advantage of those who have less power in the academy.

Audrey Scranton

As an international graduate student, I find myself without fail being unable to pay my university fees every semester. I cannot take student loans, and even thought I work well over 20 hours every semester with my authorization, I still barely make enough money to pay my bills and eat healthily. Then every month comes the 25$ late-fee pummeling. Need a tooth crown? Need glasses? Forget about eating anything but instant ramen for six months. I tell my students I have “brain-fuzz” sometimes, but it’s actually anemia.

Full fees reimbursement now.

Laura Iancu

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