The ongoing Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers United strike should have no effect on Indiana University’s spring graduate commencement ceremony May 6, according to multiple graduate workers.
As of Tuesday, the IGWC-UE voted to continue picketing for another week, which will last until the next vote on May 3.
Graduate student Zara Anwarzai, a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science who is a co-organizer of the strike, said disrupting commencement in a negative fashion is not the goal of the strike.
The picketing graduate students have no intention to disrupt the commencement, Anwarzai said. In fact, they are in full support of all students, whether graduate or undergraduate, attending commencement. Students who choose not to attend commencement will be doing so of their own will, Anwarzai said.
“Our priorities are undergraduate education and education in general,” Anwarzai said. “We’ve always been trying to improve the status of education for undergrads and grads across the board. So that would be antithetical to our mission.”
If graduate workers vote to extend the strike again and continue picketing during commencement ceremonies, Anwarzai said their goal is not to discourage future students from choosing IU for their education. The purpose is to inform parents and students of the financial issues they are facing as graduate students.
“If we’re picketing, it’s not to interrupt that, it's to let parents and students know that their tuition dollars they’ve been paying have not been going to the classroom,” Anwarzai said.
Although the graduate students are in full support of their friends and colleagues graduating, some find the administration to be hypocritical when it comes to the celebration of graduate students.
“It is kind of hypocritical of IU to talk about and present us with all these awards and gratitude, and talk to us about how great it is that we’re graduating,” graduate student Denizhan Pak, who is striking, said, “When at the same time saying you also don’t deserve to eat or live in a decent place.”
The IGWC-UE recognizes the importance of commencement as a way to celebrate all of the work graduates have put toward their education. Rory Barron, a first-year Ph.D. student in Gender Studies who is striking, said that attempting to take action that could affect it would be against supporting graduate and undergraduate education.
“I feel like commencement is great for students who do want to participate in it and it is a big accomplishment to be able to graduate with a Ph.D. and for undergraduate students,” Barron said.