FSU grad assistants rally for better benefits

Grad students’ signs at last week’s rally. Photo courtesy: wctv.tv

Dozens of FSU graduate assistants came together last week to march and be heard.

During this rally, grad students shed light on their struggles. The march took place on FSU’s campus from Dirac Library to Landis Green. The goal was to be seen by as many people as possible.

The graduate students were not afraid to talk when it came time to speak up. “I wanted to give GAs an actual opportunity to like air out their grievances and stuff,” said FSU Graduate Assistant United (GAU) committee chair Dennis Houlihan. This gave the students opportunities to ask for better conditions and higher pay.

FSU grad students said they aren’t treated as a necessity, although they are a big part of keeping the institution running. According to GAU, FSU grad assistants are only earning $16,200 a year. This is something that could potentially keep qualified graduate students away from FSU.

“I would never go back and work as an FSU graduate assistant. They do way too much to earn so little,” said Chelsea Agim, an FSU graduate.

Community Action Committee member Delilah Pierre said that marches and rallies are a great place to let people understand their demands and what they are fighting for. This gives the students the chance to talk to as many people as possible about the issues at hand. Undergraduate students even started to join in on the fight for the graduate students, as they realized that this might be their position in a couple of years.

At this time, there are no reports on the earnings of Florida A&M University graduate assistants, but the fellowships offered through FAMU are close to exceeding the earnings of a graduate assistant student at FSU. While working as a GA for FSU, tuition is waived, although tuition isn’t waived at FAMU, where the fellowships offer money towards tuition as well as money awarded aside from tuition awards.

Since the rally, the GAU has sent an open letter to FSU President Richard McCullough stating their concerns. GAU is hoping to open eyes across the university as to how grad assistants are being treated. The GAU actions to be heard have paid off, as they are set to meet with the university starting in March 2023. GAU’s goal is to change the narrative of having to settle for so little while being a graduate student for five years while earning a doctorate degree.