The important number for the university’s financial stability is actually net tuition revenue: undergraduate tuition minus financial aid. In other words, how much money does Cornell get from tuition after it pays out financial aid. If net tuition revenue is not growing as fast as costs, the university will eventually have to make some cuts to spending or find ways to increase revenue.
Votes matter. A small number of eligible voter graduate students could determine the margin between “yes” and “no” votes and thus determine whether all graduate students in the defined bargaining unit will be represented by a union.
As we move toward our union recognition election next week we would like to tell you why we — 5 active members of CGSU — are proudly voting “yes.” The reason is simply this: CGSU creates a structure to uphold the values most central to our University’s mission for ourselves and future graduate workers. Fairness, respect and democracy. Fairness: Our Grad Union creates structures which will enable us to leverage our collective power to bargain for fair work and labor conditions protected by a legally binding contract. We’re not making unreasonable requests, we’re aiming to negotiate for basic labor protections and commonsense reforms which will enable us to do our jobs better. For instance, basic Cornell health insurance for a spouse and two children costs approximately $8000 annually — well out of reach given the majority of our salaries are less than $30,000 per year.
Furthermore, we must look at racism not as a series of interpersonal violations, but a structural system of disadvantage that is founded on political and economic exploitation fully understood only through the lens of history.
As the members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Executive Committee and the Graduate and Professional Student-Elected Trustee, we have heard from several eligible voters who are no longer comfortable voting in the upcoming election for myriad reasons. We are writing this column in the hopes of convincing those individuals to consider participating.
Yet Cornell waited until the last minute before issuing a shutdown, at the risk of the safety of its students, faculty and staff. While some professors used their discretion to cancel morning classes, the university administration deferred their decision until late morning despite adverse weather conditions that had not only been forecasted, but were distinctly visible.
A union does not limit STEM stipends, but protects them. A union will not negatively impact students who receive the best stipends. Instead, it protects and guarantees increases to the highest stipends, and also increases the minimum. Currently graduate students have no say in minimum stipends and no guarantee that individual stipends will increase from year to year. Summer appointment letters decreased by up to $780 in engineering departments in 2016 compared with 2015. It is unclear how widespread this cut was within the school of engineering since the administration does not inform us of pay cuts, who they affect, or why they occurred.
The administration espouses the view that the unionization debate should be a free and open exchange of ideas, but uses its powerful platform to undercut the debate, and grads’ expectations that they can make their decisions free of institutional interference.
Achieving this goal will require the addition of new housing and dining facilities on North Campus, as well as the ongoing renovation of existing residential buildings. An additional component of the plan involves working with city officials to identify ways to improve off-campus housing for students living in Collegetown. By making this investment, we hope to create better student housing options, decrease first-year stress, and enhance the living-learning experience.
On March 13, Irvin McCullough of the Cornell Republicans authored a well-reasoned letter advocating for the repeal of Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals Rule and challenging the student-led campaign urging Cornell to make conflict mineral-free purchasing decisions. His myriad assertions deserve responses. Contrary to McCullough’s claim that conflict-free initiatives have increased militia-led violence, evidence-based assessments attest to their achievement of the opposite outcome. According to reports from the Belgian research group IPIS, the implementation of Dodd-Frank’s conflict mineral regulations has coincided with most paramilitary-controlled mines becoming entirely conflict-free. A cluster of 41 civil society groups in North Kivu recently joined a total of 101 Congo-based human in unequivocally condemning the possible suspension of federally mandated conflict mineral audits, saying that the eastern Congo has U.S. government mandates to thank for increased security in the region.