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Archive for Friday, July 28, 2006

As fall semester nears, KU, GTAs still at odds

July 28, 2006

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Kansas University just isn't listening to its graduate teaching assistants, the students said Thursday.

"We're getting worn down," said Kyle Waugh, co-president of the Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition. "It's really disheartening to see the lack of respect that the university has for its employees."

With the start of school looming, the graduate students are mulling KU's latest offer in labor contract negotiations that have dragged on more than a year.

KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz said the university has been generous in its offers.

But the students say KU administration has barely moved since negotiations started. KU has about 900 graduate teaching assistants, not all of whom are coalition members.

"The university unfortunately is totally unwilling to compromise on anything," Waugh said.

The students could return a decision on KU's contract offer as early as Monday, said Katy Martin, a graduate student and coalition lead negotiator.

The student negotiators are polling their members and asking them to weigh in on the offer. They may meet Monday and decide whether to take the offer.

"Everybody is just getting a little fatigued with the process and ready to get it done," Martin said. "At the same time, they don't want to lay down and take what they give us."

KU negotiators offered to increase the pool for merit raises for the teaching assistants by 11.3 percent and increase the minimum salary by $1,000 to $11,000 for the new year. That minimum would increase to $11,500 the next year and $12,000 in year three, according to the administration's offer.

"We would really like to get merit raises in the pockets of GTAs," Bretz said.

The students' most recent salary request - a reduction from their earlier stance - is for an increase of $1,000 per year in the minimum salary over the next three years.

But money isn't the only issue the sides have sparred over. Bretz said KU officials think the nonmonetary issues brought to the table haven't been meaty enough to derail plans for merit increases.

But the students have pressed hard for several nonmonetary items and say KU hasn't budged on them.

The students wanted to change the grievance procedure and add an impartial committee to the process. Bretz said there have only been two grievances in two years - not enough to justify a change in the current process.

The students wanted e-mail addresses and other information about new GTAs in order to contact them for possible recruitment into the coalition. They also wanted access to GTAs at orientation sessions and some relief to the 10-semester limit on the amount of time GTAs can fill their posts.

Those requests have been turned aside by the administration, Martin said.

"I have been pretty amazed at how willing they are to just ignore our concerns and our realities," Martin said. "We're trying to make our own ends meet. I think that's a reasonable thing to want."

Howard Graham, a negotiator and GTA in humanities and western civilization, described his situation.

He gets a tuition waiver and is paid about $11,000 annually for his work as a GTA. Those duties include teaching two classes of about 20 students per week, plus holding at least three office hours per week.

Graham, who works a second job, said GTAs earn less than KU's own calculations of what it costs to go to KU annually.

"I don't feel that I'm all that appreciated by the university," he said.

Comments

jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

So fairae, because you choose to be passive about your working conditions means that others should as well? Because you think "fairness" equates to equality of outcome and your outcome sucks, everyone else must take a lowered outcome, how kind of you!

The "my life sucks and so should your's" club members need to quit whining when other people try to better their working conditions. You gotta be kidding me, the employers have successfully made the employees battle one another. Ingenious, now they can keep every person down because ignorance is running rampant.

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fairae 7 years, 8 months ago

Lets add this up... 12k for tuition Health... 11k for living expenses... wow, we are up to almost 30k... That is 3x what I make working for the school 30hrs week. Plus, lets see... no health, no free tuition.... wow.... If you do not like it, QUIT SCHOOL! Or, go to another school, simple? thought so.

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The_Twelve 7 years, 8 months ago

"GTAs clearly deserve respect...at minimum"

"There's a lot of assistance given to athletes that aren't given to GTA's. Athletes also get free books, room and board, tutoring. GTA's still have to pay their rent and eat, something that athletes have taken care of for them."

"When I read in the LJW that the University of Kansas is having a hard time hiring enough GTA's for the wage and benefit package offered, I will be much more sympathetic. Until then I am unpersuaded, but good luck to you anyway."

--So many juicy quotes I don't know where to start, or how long to ramble...

  1. Student athletes get more respect FROM THE ADMINISTRATION than any of us GTAs. This is proven day after day, year after year. I challenge any of you currently on campus to ask Uncle Bob (or other high admins) to name 5 B-Ball or football players , then ask him to name 5 exceptional GTAs (or current KU grads recognized nationally for their scholarship). My bet is he can't do the latter, unless he has read this post or gives you the names of individuals he has had personal dealings with in the last several months.Make sure his answers are recorded and that the world knows of the admin's ignorance in this area.

  2. Anyone who doesn't know all the percs of being a student athlete (as well as the long hours they put in) is just plain ignorant.

  3. You won't hear about the LJW story because the events occur BEFORE these grads become GTAs! It is an accepted fact --discussed in admin committees, but obviously not discussed openly with the press--that some departments cannot attract new students to their Master's and Doctoral programs because other schools offer more benefits: better pay, insurance, etc. This fresh meat never makes it into the KU grinder.

Do you really think that Uncle Bob is going to advertise to the world that KU has grad departments that can't attract new students??

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movingforward 7 years, 8 months ago

I would like to address the user "Confrontation." As a member of GTAC, I can say with certainty that the organization is very concerned with the employment status of "lecturers" at the University. We have discussed this at several meetings. We believe that the University is, unilaterally, changing the bargaining unit so that more employees who meet the qualifications to be a "GTA" are labeled "lecturer." This means, as you have pointed out, that the University does not cover the cost of tuition for the GTA because they have decided they will call them "lecturer." In every situation that I am aware of "lecturers" and GTAs do the same jobs, exactly, but are called different things and, therefore, are compensated in different ways. We need to start questioning why the University would call two employees who are doing the same job and have the same qualifications different things? Towards this end, GTAC has attempted to discuss with the University its policy of re-defining the bargaining unit. Why did you make that person a lecturer? The University has refused to recognize this request. Every person I know in GTAC believes that lecturers at the University should be paid more and considered GTAs if they qualify and, in many cases, they do. We also recognize that some "lecturers" are no longer students and, therefore, do not qualify to be GTAs and would, in fact, rather be considered a lecturer. We also respect and understand this need. This is not about GTAs versus support staff or GTAs versus "lecturers." This is about the University not listening and, in some cases, not caring about how it treats its employees. Don't buy into the spin. I encourage you to attend a GTAC meeting. I think that you will find there allies who are concerned about you and your family's relationship with the University.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

"But this discussion is premature anyway, since the university has flatly denied raises to ALL of its GTAs for the past two years."

And are we done paying 200k a year to Al Bohl to do nothing? (yes yes, the U. doesn't pay all of an ADs salary, but they sure pay enough!).

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

And yes, before you ask, those are salaries for half-time appointments for 9/10 month contracts. Each included a tuition waiver and MOST had statements that they included health insurance. The Big 12 numbers were from a newspaper that had surveyed the schools and did not mention health benefits.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

Well, let's talk about market rates then Sigmund. Some of those COLD HARD FACTS we might want to consider Sigmund. Those COLD HARD FACTS that you failed to obtain before opening your Large, vacuous piehole.

2006-07 Stanford University MINIMUM of $20,850 for a Teaching Assistant 2006-07 U. of New Mexico (MINIMUMS) 11,641 (pre-masters student) 12,805 (post-masters) 2006-07 UW-Milwaukee Doctoral Student Teaching Assistant - $11,137 2005-06 University of Pittsburgh Teaching Assistant $13,555 2006- University of Washington Computer Science/Engineering TA - approx. $18,000 2004 - Colorado State University Speech GTA - $10,214 Fall 2004 Survey (for previous year?)- U. of Colorado $13,633 1999-2000 - University of Arizona Psy - 10,265-12,209; Hum. - 11,475-13,163 Chem. - 14,408-16,607 Fall 1998 - Some averages for Big 12 schools (from KSU Collegian) CU - 12,402; NU - 11,309 UT - 10,442; OU - 9,668; KU - 9,300 Year unknown - Utah State 14,400

There, some cold hard economic facts for you. And please note the years on some of them. KU TAs are making less than market rates from 5 years ago! I thought you people would have learned your lesson. When you mention the cold hard facts, you should at least have looked at the cold hard facts before you spout them off as support for your claims.

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observer 7 years, 8 months ago

Have you noticed, most of complainers have not got intelligence and lack skills to attend KU, much less be a GTA?

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Confrontation 7 years, 8 months ago

Posted by rmedy (anonymous) on July 28, 2006 at 12:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

P.S. KU does hire "undocumented GTAs" and then pay them a substandard wage. They call them "lecturers."

I hope you aren't assuming these workers are illegal. They have to be "documented" to work at KU. Unlike many employers in Lawrence, KU will verify your citizenship status. My spouse taught as a lecturer while in a KU Masters program, and would have loved the ease of being a GTA. My spouse received $11 per hour for teaching two classes, worked another full-time job, had to get student loans, with no tuition assistance. There are a ton of students who would take the GTA positions, so those who don't like the pay can go find another job.

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kylewaugh 7 years, 8 months ago

In response to the comment from OldEnuf2BYurDad, I would like to clear up one misunderstanding. An 11% raise is NOT distributed to each GTA; it is added to a "merit pool" from which the GTA raises are allocated. The three, yearly raises to the minimum salary, when expressed in percentages, seem significant, though my current salary remains a mere $200 above the official poverty line, according to the Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 15, January 24, 2006, pp. 3848-3849. Not to mention the fact that even provided a $1000 raise, I would still be more than $3000 short of the figure calculated, on KU's very own financial aid website, for the finances necessary, minus tuition to survive a year in Lawrence. But this discussion is premature anyway, since the university has flatly denied raises to ALL of its GTAs for the past two years.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Which is it? GTA's are so over worked and underpaid they could easily make more elsewhere, or is it GTA's have so few opportunities elsewhere that no one will pay them more than they currently make?

Everyone I know works hard, everyone including GTA's. Everyone I know also understands if they can get better pay elsewhere they are free to leave and seek opportunity elsewhere. Don't tell me how hard GTA's work, I've never said otherwise. Don't tell me it's expensive to live in Lawrence, everyone I know pays the same costs, pays the same taxes, has only 24 hours in a day to get it all done. The issue is not what you need, its what you are worth.

If the next LJW article tells me that KU can't hire enough qualified GTA's because no one is willing to take that job under those terms I'll change my mind. But as it is I think you might want to consider the cold hard economic facts. You don't want the job, fine there is someone in the wings who will do the job who is equally hard working, equally skilled, and pays the same living expenses. I can see no reason, nor have you presented any reason, why KU should pay above market rates for your labor when others are willing to take your job for what KU is willing and able to pay.

I mean no reason than to keep you all from whining every couple of months.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

oldenuf said: "When I was in school, I washed dishes in Templin Hall. I lusted for the opportunity to do something as noble and clean as teaching."

So, what did you do, just sit back the rest of your life lusting or did you do something about changing the situation? Finding another job is ONE option; another is using your leverage to get your STATE employer to pay a fair wage.

And further, you can't sit here and gripe about your wife's position and then tell others that they can't gripe about theirs. Of course everyone at KU is getting underpaid, but those groups need to organize themselves to gain leverage. That is what the GTA union has done. Stop griping bout it and do something; a gripe is only a small part of an action plan.

And as for GTAs being "part time" employees, I suppose you are one who considers college professors to be part-time employees as well?

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dhill00 7 years, 8 months ago

Almost every word out of sigmunds mouth is either hard to find sarcasm or just complete fallacies

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund- I have yet to see one basketball player in the college ranks be responsible for millions of dollars. In fact, there are only a handful in the professional ranks whose mere presence brings in millions (e.g., Michael Jordan). The ones that have the potential to single-handedly bring in millions skip college and go professional (e.g., LeBron James & Kobe Bryant). And again, you skirt the issue that college basketball players who do not go pro at the ends of their collegiate careers have gained name and face recognition (at least regionally) that give them opportunities that a price cannot be placed upon.

Interestingly, some KU basketball players are not highly recruited, but that is beside the point. What is more interesting is that you seem to be uninformed as to the process of being accepted to graduate school. One's entire university academic career (as opposed to a great senior year in High school) is assessed when applying for admission to graduate school. Being lucky to be tall or quick don't factor into admission there.

Most laughable is your comment about how GTAs can't be hired by anyone else. What is it you think they are doing in graduate school. They chose to do something other than flip burgers, type, or paint lines on the street (all noble careers), yet, they teach hundreds of students each semester (for example, I had 200 students over 2 semesters). You keep pointing to those paychecks and comparing GTAs who get a specific pittance and basketball players who don't. Basketball players get housing, meals, travel (to hawaii or alaska), notoriety, a college education and a stipend, yet you don't want to place any value on those things.

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fletch 7 years, 8 months ago

oldenuf: wow, what wonderful distortions and half-truths you've brought to the table.

First, there is money. There is always money. KU just refuses to put it in certain areas. Not to harp more on Athletics, but athletes have professional tutors who are paid a high wage to (borrowing from above) "force feed" the athletes their classes. The ratio of tutors to athletes is very low. In comparison, regular students get their tutoring from fellow students making 6 bucks an hour with little to no training. Now, those students are saints for doing that work with that pay, but it paints my example. Instead of an equitable distribution of tutoring among all students, one class is favored and gets more money diverted to them. Some upper members of the administration make wages high above industry averages for their positions, while the GTAs at the bottom of the system make far less than industry average. There is money, but it's about being fiscally responsible and equitable with it's distribution. In addition, KU's lobbying in Topeka is horrid. funding has gone straight down and they can't seem to build an effective case for funding, largely because their lobbyists are just plain bad. They send Rep. Barbara Ballard to talk to other legislators while ignoring the fact that almost the entire Republican delegation (and a fair number of Democrats) think she's certifiably insane.

GTAs do far more work than what is portrayed in the article. Most teach 2-3 classes a week, plus official office hours, plus undocumented office hours, plus preparation at home, plus the hours they are in class, plus the time it takes for their homework, plus their research time, and they do it all making less than pverty page. 11,000 doesn't go very far towards living. Assuming you share an apartment of house, your rent is going to be around $4000 a year, plus $1500-2000 in bills, plus $500-1000 in associated costs to your education (books, supplies), plus the money you have to spend preparing fo your class. That leaves most with only $3000-4000 for food, gas, traveling home, and other day to day expenses. I've never met a rich GTA in my life. They're not asking to be rich. They're asking for a fair pay.

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ram67rod 7 years, 8 months ago

I would just like to say, I love KU Basketball and I love GTA's.

While in school I learned a lot more from my GTA's than I ever did from some of the instructors, especially the one that was from Russia and taught my calculus class. Couldn't understand a dam* word he said.

GTA's Rock!

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 8 months ago

I ask your forgiveness for my angry rant, but I'm still upset about my wife's situation at KU.

This is my point: if a full-time career administrator who has already completed her advanced degree cannot get an 11% raise, then why should a temporary, part time employee with little or no work history and no advanced degree get one? Does that make sense?

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 8 months ago

My wife is a FULL TIME PERMANENT employee of the university who is underpaid by about 30%, but she hasn't been offered a 11% raise!

These GTAs don't understand something: there is no money. My wife didn't get the raise she legitimately should have gotten (even her boss admits this) because the legislature and the board of regents didn't provide the funds.

"making 6 figures for the pittance that they drop on GTAs"

How many people in Strong Hall do you think actually make that kind of money? NOT as many as you think. A few. The middle level administrators are sometimes only making HALF what they could if they were in the private sector.

"He gets a tuition waiver and is paid about $11,000 annually for his work as a GTA. Those duties include teaching two classes of about 20 students per week, plus holding at least three office hours per week."

He's getting about $13 an hour (assuming that 10 hours per week is invested in grading papers... NOT), plus a huge break on tuition. I know that you can't buy a house on $13 an hour, but this doesn't sound like a bad deal. It ain't flipping burgers and it's a resume builder.

Yes, it would be great if we COULD pay them more, but there is no money, and besides, this is not just "work", it's relevant work experience for most of them, and ON CAMPUS.

Don't like it? Try to do as well getting a job OFF campus.

I think these complainers have no understanding of the real world, which makes sense, since most of them have never worked in a career position. When I was in school, I washed dishes in Templin Hall. I lusted for the opportunity to do something as noble and clean as teaching.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

While i had thought I wouldn't recover, I have found new strength. The insight of the posters here into my personality is simply astounishing and has cheered me greatly.

I am willing to concede that comparing KU's GTA's to KU Basketball players was patently unfair. KU's Basketball program brings in multi-millions of dollars and GTA's cost the University 10 grand a year each. Further, KU Basketball players are highly recruited and could play anywhere, that sadly is not the case with GTA's who no one else will apparently hire and are lucky to have jobs. Point well made and I apologise to all KU Basketball players.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund, the reason you "only hear GTAs" is because they work to bring the issue out into the open. You don't think janitors, McDonald's workers, cafeteria workers and every other so-called "underclass" doesn't gripe about what they get paid, their benefits (or lack of), or working conditions? Because you ONLY hear of GTAs publicizing their plight to rally support for their cause in an organized, vocal fashion, you conclude that GTAs are whining when everyone else is just floating along happily cleaning toilets, serving up hamburgers and washing dishes thankful that they have a job paying them 5.15 and hour. Give me a break! Ignorance at its finest; I don't see it... so it must not exist.

Further, where are all these alternatives that GTAs have that secretaries, janitors, and gardeners don't have in the area? There are far MORE opportunities for secretaries, janitors, and gardeners than there are college educators in the nation! Your claim is patently false.

To suggest that basketball players in NCAA Division I do not reap benefits and opportunity that most other college students would die for is absurd. Face and name recognition gets people very far in this world. A basketball player that doesn't go pro, but finishes college will have suitors (read: alumni) welcoming the athlete into situations that other "no-name" students would never get a sniff at. Some of the most important things we learn or gain are intangible, or as the commercial touts... opportunity and choice are priceless.

You have to be kidding me to think that workers are expected to idly sit back and so graciously thank the administrators at KU (the very one's you claim are making indentured servants of basketball players) making 6 figures for the pittance that they drop on GTAs.

I think Sigmund was a KU grad student who was dismissed after failing to defend his Master's. Just a guess. Or perhaps he was not accepted to KUs Clinical Psychology Doctoral program. I am going for the latter. Sigmund, your rhetorical argument style was dead long before the sabre of logic pierced the confluence of your anger, bile, and hatred of educated persons.

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betti81 7 years, 8 months ago

I would just like to say that in my four years at KU I was blessed with good GTAs and cursed with bad GTAs. I had one GTA that was awesome. I even switched to his 7am Friday discussion for history of WWII class (great class with the right discussion leader)--7AM FRIDAY! His name is Jeremy and I believe he is overseas now, so I feel for history students today. When he would conduct review sessions for the two classes I took from him, the room was always packed.

I had a very bad GTA who reminded us everyday that KU paid him crap and he hated his job and all of us. He was grumpy all the time.

I guess I have a hard time with how "little" they are paid. I worked my way through college too. I had a "full-ride" scholarship that was supposed to cover tuition with some left over each year. With the tuition increases each year, it did not cover tuition after my freshman year. I looked at my old tax returns, I made less than $10,000 every year there. I survived. I lived with roommates, drove a crappy car, etc. I can understand those who have families finding it hard to make ends meet, but I guess I see it as paid experience for the future really.

anyways...my two cents...not worth much.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

flutter! What a deep psychological insight you have! And what a stunningly rhetorical riposte! I say, you have cut me to the quick! The incisive thrust of your logical cutlass has struck me to the bone! Alas, I fear the wound is fatal! Oh, untimely death!

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flutter 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund, the problem with your comments is that they are utterly disrespectful and insulting to GTAs. You clearly have some serious anger issues that you are choosing to take out on people who you do not know. Your comments are also largely made on misconceptions and ignorance, rendering them invalid.

Also, your comparison of GTAs and basketball players is ungrounded and illogical on several levels.

Take your anger elsewhere. Your failure to even respect the work that these people do is disgusting.

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crono 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund---thank you for the apologies and much respect. :-) If I am hearing you rightly, that you are suspicious of the attitude and some of the tactics of the GTA union---I would agree with you on that. Of course, while I somewhat accept the argument that "if a person is working in this job, he/she must like it" has some obvious merit, I think it's fallacious to equate this statement with "if a person is working this job, he/she must like every aspect of the job"---hence, there must be room to discuss/lobby for change.

But Sigmund, I feel like you're not applying your own logic to your own argument. For example, you say regarding GTAs:

"GTA's have options, maybe even more options than many others in the University system, and they get paid more and have better working conditions than most parttime workers. First and foremost is the option, and presumably the ability, to get a different better job somewhere else.

If they don't seek and take alternative employment I am led to the conclusion they can't, which means they are paid about right. If they can but won't I can't help but conclude that they are too lazy or would rather sing "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" in four part harmony, equally unpersuasive.""

Modifying your words just slightly, I could just as likewise argue:

"Student athletes have options, maybe even more options than many others in the University system, and they get paid more and have better working conditions than most students. First and foremost is the option, and presumably the ability, to go professional whenver they like and make millions of dollars.

If they don't seek and take this alternative option I am led to the conclusion they can't, which means they are compensated about right. If they can but won't I can't help but conclude that they are too lazy or would rather sing "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" in four part harmony, equally unpersuasive.""

So in summary---I don't think discussing improvements to one's work or school situation is wrong. I do think conditions for GTAs are fairly adequate, but that doesn't mean that there aren't problems to discuss---in particularly, I think better healthcare and better pay are worth negotiating for. I also think that the GTA union has not always discussed these issues in ways that are helpful or respectful. I do think that GTAs (and graduate students in general) are more important than the basketball team (though the basketball team is not without importance), though this priority is not reflected in the current structure of KU.

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rmedy 7 years, 8 months ago

P.S. KU does hire "undocumented GTAs" and then pay them a substandard wage. They call them "lecturers."

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rmedy 7 years, 8 months ago

It seems to me that the difference here is that teaching at a university is a JOB, and extracurricular basketball is NOT a job. GTAs are asking for fair treatment as EMPLOYEES. If Basketball players desire the same treatment, they can fight for it--from their employer, when they get one.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Crono, apologies and much respect. You've given me lots to think about. Yes, Kansas is a right to work State and mandatory Union membership is against the law. I guess my Union sarcasm was lost on many.

However my other two points about GTA's seeking and taking their best employment option I still consider valid and not seriously challenged. Everyone, everyone, everyone I know works VERY hard for their money, not just GTA's. Many workers consider all the benefits and drawbacks when choosing their employment, including salary, hours, type of work and how interesting it is to the individual.

This includes cafeteria workers, student athletes, and GTA's. Why is it that I only hear about GTA's whining every couple of months about their working conditions as if they are some special underclass of workers forcibly exploited by the University?

GTA's have options, maybe even more options than many others in the University system, and they get paid more and have better working conditions than most parttime workers. First and foremost is the option, and presumably the ability, to get a different better job somewhere else.

If they don't seek and take alternative employment I am led to the conclusion they can't, which means they are paid about right. If they can but won't I can't help but conclude that they are too lazy or would rather sing "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" in four part harmony, equally unpersuasive.

When I read in the LJW that the University of Kansas is having a hard time hiring enough GTA's for the wage and benefit package offered, I will be much more sympathetic. Until then I am unpersuaded, but good luck to you anyway.

Please reconsider my assertion that student athletes are exploited on a level that would not be tolerated in a civilized society excepting the University Cartel. Student athletes at KU, and all NCAA institutions, are not compensated monetarily at all. Most will not have professional careers. This inequity leads many student athletes into taking graff, payoffs from atheltic supporters, and accept "gifts" from agents who merely want to exploit them further.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund, if basketball players skills are so refined and they get nothing from the developmental process of playing with players of similar (and often greater ability) then why don't they just go pro?

Is there a problem with athletic departments at universities? Yes, of course there is, but your solution to equalize GTAs and basketball players by telling GTAs to suck it up because basketball players are getting "nothing" in your eyes, is laughable. You seem to be fighting for equality at any cost. Make the system fair/equal for both groups by LOWERING the standard. What you end up with is not bettering the system from basketball players, but rather harming the system for a VITAL and ESSENTIAL function of the university. Because people raise athletes to the level of celebrity on college campuses does not increase their actual importance to the function of the university.

There are many lower paying jobs out there that have benefits , such as flexible hours and other incentives. Basketball players at KU reap social benefits that have no pricetag, but are worth far more in the end than a few bucks in the pocket of a GTA. You don't think that in the area, former KU basketball players get doors cracked open a bit wider for them than the average KU grad? You don't think they get opportunities that the average KU grad (or post grad) would never see?

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bialystocknbloom 7 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund have you ever had a GTA-taught class? Do you actually know anyone who's a GTA? Do you know how much CRAP these people put up with? As a friend and student of a KU GTA here at Washburn, I can vouch for how much crap she takes because a lot of it is from me :) (but that's what you get for teaching music history). But seriously she's one of the best teachers I've ever had.

They put in more hours than are required of them. The "requirement" is the bare minimum it takes to get the job done and many of those hours go really late at night. Undergrads don't respect GTAs purely out of tradition, THAT'S why they all seem grumpy. They're grumpy because they have to share small cramped offices. They're grumpy because they'd rather be learning something new to help them graduate instead of easing the underclassman workload from the faculty. They're grumpy because a lot of the time the faculty don't respect them any more than the undergrads do. They're grumpy because there are TOO many stairs in Murphy Hall.

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crono 7 years, 8 months ago

As a GTA myself, I am deeply appreciative of the kind remarks many of you have made about us. Especially if you are not a GTA yourself... thank you.

And speaking as one starting my eighth semester as a GTA, I have several thoughts. First, Sigmund, your remarks about the GTA union do not take into account the nature of Kansas law regarding unions. We are a "right to work" state---meaning mandatory unions are illegal.

Second (again addressing Sigmund), your analogy between GTAs and the basketball team is problematic for several reasons. For one thing, undergraduate education and graduate education are qualitatively different in a great many respects. But barring that hurdle, even if one wishes to make the comparison, this only further strengthens the GTA union's position. While the basketball team flies in their own plane and are treated like royalty, some GTAs are expected to pay for the computer paper and office supplies that they need to teach their classes. Yes, you heard me right: not resources needed for taking classes, but for teaching classes, some GTAs are expected to foot the bill (and it is also worth noting, my department largely forbids GTAs from taking outside jobs, because they have historically caused a problem for scheduling courses). Academically, an army of professional staff and hired tutors almost force-feed some athletes through their classes. In contrast, GTAs are expected to start building a substantial program of academic research, largely with the "spare time" they have left over after teaching and taking their own classes. And as much as KU basketball helps the university's reputation, shouldn't our reputation for the quality of our graduate students be a higher priority?

Third, despite my previous statements, I have concerns about the actions of the GTA union. During a protest in February, at least one prominent GTA protestor wore a pig mask to imitate KU's administration. Such action is nothing but juvenile, and hardly befitting a junior scholar nor a serious negotiator. While I think some of the goals of the GTA union are generally good (for instance, I believe improved GTA health insurance is needed), I wonder if some of their goals are overly optimistic, maybe even myopic. Yes, GTAs earn about $11,000 a year---but we are heading toward professions that pay much more. And in comparison to professional schools, where students come out with a mountain of loan debt, I think we fare much better: not only do we have smaller debt loads (if any at all), but we have also gained valuable teaching experience that only helps build our vitae. Thus, while I appreciate the strides in pay and treatment that the GTA union has advanced---our goal ought not to be paid and treated like faculty. That comes later.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Wow. How a liberally educated GTA could participate and profit off of a system that works young men, mostly poor and mostly minorities, pays them $0 for eight semesters to earn millions of dollars off of their skills and talents in order to help support a mostly white intellectual elite and then lecture us on getting paid only $10,000 for a parttime job is beyond me. Only two words come to mind, Hypocrisy and Greed.

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Althea Schnacke 7 years, 8 months ago

There's a lot of assistance given to athletes that aren't given to GTA's. Athletes also get free books, room and board, tutoring. GTA's still have to pay their rent and eat, something that athletes have taken care of for them.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

"get a real union" oh yes Sigmund that is what we need more of in this world, more extreme versions of coercion. I suppose I should turn to the government and beg for a silencing of your uninformed opinions? No, I don't believe that I should, you have the very right to spout your uninformed opinions and I have no right to restrict them. A 'union' of GTAs does not need to reflect the "real unions" that you espouse (e.g., meat packers, electricians, auto workers).

You seem to miss the purpose of the university. A basketball team is a non-essential, and actually unnecessary function of a university. You will find not a single university without educators; you will find plenty without this sport or that. However, when you have sport without education, you have... a sports team, not a university.

If basketball players have a problem with their role as a non-essential aspect of the university and want to get paid to play basketball, there are options all over this planet to play basketball for pay. Opt for the NBA out of high school or go overseas to play. The "league" for teachers is the very league that they are playing in and fighting for change.

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flutter 7 years, 8 months ago

Wow. I refuse to respond to Sigmund's ravings as they are just too bizarre to warrent serious response...putting the importance of basketball before education at a university is simply ignorant. Also, I fail to understand why someone would get so incensed over something they know very little about and, thus, probably have NOTHING to do with.

Many GTAs are currently making just above $10k (and by that, I mean truly "just above"...$10,100 to be exact...before taxes) for two full semesters of employment. That includes doing all of the work that goes into running 4 classes total and holding 3 mandatory office hours per week. As others have mentioned here, many GTAs do much more work than "assisting"...many plan the entire courses for which they are responsible, create all assignments, teach all class meetings alone and grade all classwork. In addition, the 3 office hours a week is MINIMUM...many GTAs end up spending well over 3 hours a week outside of regular class time providing intensive one-on-one instruction to individual students.

Yes, those employed as GTAs have a choice of taking the job or not. But that does not mean that those employed as GTAs should not expect more RESPECT for their work and/or increased monetary compensation. As bennyoates mentioned above, the university needs GTAs to teach the classes that faculty do not wish to teach and to keep tuition costs down for undergrads.

GTAs clearly deserve respect...at minimum.

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dhill00 7 years, 8 months ago

I have learned just to skip over any message that starts with sigmund. Yet another example of someone commenting about a subject they apparently have no knowledge of.

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billyflay 7 years, 8 months ago

if it's such a bad deal, why do GTA's continue to teach?

i just love economic forces,

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

If I were KU and wanted to bust this so called "Union" (I say so called because I have yet to see a single union thugs beating up scabs, union bosses collecting mandatory dues, and shop stewards keeping other workers from doing union jobs) I would simply hire a bunch of "undocumented GTA's" to do the same work for minimum wages.

Nope, the REAL oppressed workers are the Basket Ball team. Not only do they not get paid, they are worked so hard they don't have time to take second jobs and if they do they are probably violating some NCAA rule! And the millions of dollars they bring the University helps to support you. You try living on free tuition and nothing more.

GTA's get a clue. If you can a better deal working somewhere else, take it. If not, get a REAL UNION or quit your whining.

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rmedy 7 years, 8 months ago

sigmund: do you have any idea how many classes full time professors teach? usually 2 classes per semester, plus 3 office hours per week.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 8 months ago

Benny is right on and shows Sigmund's ignorance. I could never understand why the term "assistant" was added to the tile of someone who chooses the text, chooses the topics that will be covered, creates those materials, develops and scores assessments, presents and facilitates the material, maintains office hours to assist students outside of the classroom and has developed a knowledge of the topic being taught.

By the way, new professors are "assistant professors" in the lingo. They aren't really "assisting" anyone in a fashion different from an associate professor or a (full) professor.

Oh and it isn't 11k for two classes, that is for two classes each semester. And while some might be teaching classes of 20 students, I taught classes of 50 students as a GTA.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

If I lived on a salary of $11,000 working part-time was in school and was getting free tuition AND I could get a better deal somewhere else I would quit and take the better deal.

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Jayhawk226 7 years, 8 months ago

Sorry Sigmund...

...you lose on this one.

Out of curiousity, do you live off a total household income of $11,000 before taxes? I don't think I could do it, and therefore, I'm yet to step into my PhD program.

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bennyoates 7 years, 8 months ago

To correct Sigmund again, you should know that in the case of some fields, the term "teaching assistant" is a misnomer. In English, Sociology, and American Studies, for example, so-called TAs are responsible for all aspects of their classes. They are teachers. They write up policies, manage the classrooms, create assignments, lead discussions and lecture, and do all the grading. They are assisting no one--except students, that is.

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bennyoates 7 years, 8 months ago

Even for an ljworld.com message board, Sigmund's ignorance is breathtaking.

KU and its students save enormous amounts of money through the cheap labor of GTAs. Tenured faculty do not wish to teach most of the courses that GTAs teach, and if tenured faculty did teach them, tuition costs would be unaffordable for most students.

Moreover, GTAs are, in general, far more willing to go the extra mile for their students. Contrary to what betti81 claims, most GTAs are not grumpy. They work hard, very hard, and beyond the call of duty, to help students that most tenured faculty wouldn't give a damn about.

Many GTAs have families; some GTAs are young (25 or under), but a significant proportion of GTAs are also veteran teachers who have returned to college to improve themselves, which is what America is supposed to be about. In fact, many GTAs are far, far better teachers than tenured faculty, especially at a research institution like KU.

The fact is that KU's GTAs simply want the fairness they have earned, and that they earn every day. Their work days do not end when the class change whistle sounds.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

Good point Bozo. You know if the Teaching ASSISTANTS get overwhelmed maybe they could have the Professors and teachers help out and actually teach a class or two?

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betti81 7 years, 8 months ago

they get paid less than what KU says it costs to attend...does that include tuition? because i would think that is a big chunk. i bet this is why most of my GTAs were so grumpy ;)

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

You obviously have no concept of how much time it takes to teach those two classes.

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Sigmund 7 years, 8 months ago

TWO WHOLE CLASSES AND THREE HOURS A WEEK FOR A MERE ELEVEN GRAND PLUS TUTION?!?!?!

Wait a minute, thats a better deal than the Basket Ball team gets and they have a tradition of excellence, work longer hours, have talent and bring in money to the University.

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