Duke University Graduate School Dissertation

“It’s about power or control.” Actually, Duke’s long game need not be that long: In September, the NLRB—now run by anti-union Trump appointees—will revisit whether grad students at universities like Duke should even be able to unionize in the first place.

In the 1970s, roughly two-thirds of faculty at universities across the country were either tenured or tenure-track, positions that afford professors job security and near-absolute academic freedom.

Facing the prospect of a prolonged, uphill battle, the DGSU ultimately withdrew its petition for certification.

Instead, it formed what’s called a direct-join union and began working alongside Fight for $15 activists in a successful campaign to raise the minimum wage of the campus’s contract employees. So for the last year, they’ve donned bright orange shirts and staged walkouts, a yoga protest on the quad, and multiple rallies demanding a $31,200 stipend paid out over twelve months (summer funding isn’t guaranteed after year three), a relocation grant for incoming graduates, and pay beginning upon arrival in August. In April, Duke agreed to raise the graduate stipend to $31,160.

In 2014, some grad students created a committee to abolish continuation fees, a $7,000 charge for graduates six years or more into the Ph D program.

From that, the Duke Graduate Students Union formed in early 2016 to demand better compensation and benefits.So she picked up side hustles, like writing for and editing academic journals, cataloging books, and even pet-sitting.That extra income wasn’t a lot, she says, “but it might pay a grocery bill.They grade, they teach, they conduct research, they treat patients—and as Duke and other universities across the country have become more reliant on contingent faculty while cutting back on tenured professors, it’s often fallen to grad students to pick up the slack.It’s to Duke’s advantage, then, to keep the grad students from organizing.It’s not just about saving money, although adjuncts make less than tenured professors.Contingent faculty are paid per class—sometimes as little as

From that, the Duke Graduate Students Union formed in early 2016 to demand better compensation and benefits.

So she picked up side hustles, like writing for and editing academic journals, cataloging books, and even pet-sitting.

That extra income wasn’t a lot, she says, “but it might pay a grocery bill.

They grade, they teach, they conduct research, they treat patients—and as Duke and other universities across the country have become more reliant on contingent faculty while cutting back on tenured professors, it’s often fallen to grad students to pick up the slack.

It’s to Duke’s advantage, then, to keep the grad students from organizing.

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From that, the Duke Graduate Students Union formed in early 2016 to demand better compensation and benefits.So she picked up side hustles, like writing for and editing academic journals, cataloging books, and even pet-sitting.That extra income wasn’t a lot, she says, “but it might pay a grocery bill.They grade, they teach, they conduct research, they treat patients—and as Duke and other universities across the country have become more reliant on contingent faculty while cutting back on tenured professors, it’s often fallen to grad students to pick up the slack.It’s to Duke’s advantage, then, to keep the grad students from organizing.It’s not just about saving money, although adjuncts make less than tenured professors.Contingent faculty are paid per class—sometimes as little as $1,500 per semester—often without benefits, sometimes while paying down hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. Their contracts are at risk if they cross administrators or department heads.There have been times where I’ve been absolutely grateful for anyone who will offer me a bit of money.” This summer, she’s cramming to finish her dissertation, sometimes writing for twelve or thirteen hours a day, seven days a week, while dipping her toes into an increasingly bleak academic job market—itself nearly a full-time job.In the last six years, her rent has gone up 50 percent; she now pays $600 for her share of a two-bedroom.Duke has also agreed to cover tuition for six years instead of five, extend family leave, and move up its pay schedule to cover a student’s first few weeks in Durham.“Only through collective action could we actually show the university that these are the things we need and we are prepared to work together for them,” Rogers says.

,500 per semester—often without benefits, sometimes while paying down hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. Their contracts are at risk if they cross administrators or department heads.There have been times where I’ve been absolutely grateful for anyone who will offer me a bit of money.” This summer, she’s cramming to finish her dissertation, sometimes writing for twelve or thirteen hours a day, seven days a week, while dipping her toes into an increasingly bleak academic job market—itself nearly a full-time job.In the last six years, her rent has gone up 50 percent; she now pays 0 for her share of a two-bedroom.Duke has also agreed to cover tuition for six years instead of five, extend family leave, and move up its pay schedule to cover a student’s first few weeks in Durham.“Only through collective action could we actually show the university that these are the things we need and we are prepared to work together for them,” Rogers says.

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