IU graduate students are facing a variety of emotions heading into the commencement ceremony on May 6.
While the commencement ceremony is a time for family and friends to celebrate the accomplishments of graduate students, it will also serve as a reminder that the wage issues and payment fees which affect affording housing and food are still a problem, Christopher Torres Lugo, who will be receiving a PhD in Computer Science, said.
Lugo said he will continue to support his fellow graduate students who he will be leaving and the Indiana Graduate Worker Coalition-United Electrical Workers overall.
“It’s bittersweet in the sense that I am finally done and will be able to move on,” Lugo said.
Christopher Agostino, who will be receiving a doctoral degree in astronomy, said he is excited to be graduating. He’s looking forward to the future graduate students being able to have more of a complete community and voice on campus because of everything that they are doing, including the potential positive impact of the strikes and the union the graduate workers have formed.
Agostino said he wishes for future and current graduate students to have a democratic voice so that they have the ability to raise concerns about issues beyond just wages.
“It ensures that the mission of the university is one of education,” Agostino said.
The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers trying to start a conversation with administration about raising stipends and waiving fees is not new. Pallovi Rao graduated from Indiana University in July 2021 with a doctoral degree in media arts and sciences, but will be participating in the commencement ceremony. She was part of the graduate coalition at IU during her time as a graduate student. She said she has complete sympathy for the coalition.
Rao said during her time in graduate school at IU, the administration was adamant about not raising stipends or waiving their fees, and she feels the students received little support. Rao said she would tell current and future graduate students to continue to fight for what they are owed.
“Do not ease up on pleasuring the admin to do better because that’s the only thing that has moved the needle for us at IU,” Rao said. “I wish them the very best.”