The Graduate Workers Coalition organized a picket line Thursday in front of Bryan Hall, where Provost Lauren Robel’s office is located, as part of a fee strike asking for IU’s administration to better compensate graduate workers for their labor.
More than 750 graduate workers withheld their IU spring semester fees, according to a coalition press release published on March 4th. Wednesday was the last day to pay fees before the university considers them late. This year, fees were not itemized, and students said they do not know where their money is going.
Graduate Workers Coalition organizer Cole Nelson previously told the IDS the coalition wants an end to mandatory and international student fees, an increase of stipends to the standard of living in Bloomington, a 2% or fixed-to-inflation annual raise and protections during COVID-19 and the option to choose if their classes are in person.
The picket included multiple speakers talking about their demands and their concerns regarding how the administration plans to communicate with them.
The importance of the protest was to bring forth the problems graduate students have had regarding unnecessary fees for both domestic and international students, Nelson said in his speech.
“These issues are not going to disappear on their own,” Nelson said during the protest. “We demand the university to be reasonable, bold and above all, fair in its actions.”
Nelson said he was frustrated about an additional $700 fee in his bursar account when he first arrived at IU. He said the fee showed the university is not treating him how he thought he should be as a working graduate student.
“That was sort of the personal alarm bell for me,” Nelson said.
John Garbero, protest organizer and Ph.D. student, said the strike is meant to show that the graduate students have strength in numbers. Even though it was a rainy day, he said they demonstrated how strongly they want the fees to end.
“We are still here,” Garbero said.