By: Kevin Funk, Co-President, Graduate Assistants United (GAU)
Every semester, the University of Florida’s 4,000 graduate, teaching, and research assistants are responsible for paying exorbitant university fees. This spring 2015 semester, most of us will pay around $700 back to our employer. For many, this is more than the amount of their biweekly paycheck.
That the university would charge its graduate assistants such a significant amount in fees—hundreds of dollars higher per semester on average than its peer institutions—is especially ironic given the recent campaign, which Graduate Assistants United (GAU) supports, to turn the University of Florida into a Top 10 public research institution.
Graduate Assistant poverty is a very real but hidden problem that affects many members of the Gator Nation. At a time in which the university’s budget is increasing, and university administrators are receiving substantial raises, GAU calls on the University of Florida to make Graduate Assistants a priority and ease the significant fee burden that is pushing so many of us below the poverty line.
On Friday, March 13, our Graduate Assistant community will gather together at Turlington Plaza to push for fee relief and remind our administrators that the University of Florida only works because we do. It is time for the administration to recognize our fundamental contributions to the university’s mission by providing Graduate Assistants with fair and livable compensation packages.