• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

  • Amy Laskowski

    Senior Writer Twitter Profile

    Photo of Amy Laskowski. A white woman with long brown hair pulled into a half up, half down style and wearing a burgundy top, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Amy Laskowski is a senior writer at Boston University. She is always hunting for interesting, quirky stories around BU and helps manage and edit the work of BU Today’s interns. She did her undergrad at Syracuse University and earned a master’s in journalism at the College of Communication in 2015. Profile

  • Jackie Ricciardi

    Staff photojournalist

    Portrait of Jackie Ricciardi

    Jackie Ricciardi is a staff photojournalist at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. She has worked as a staff photographer at newspapers that include the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, Ga., and at Seacoast Media Group in Portsmouth, N.H., where she was twice named New Hampshire Press Photographer of the Year. Profile

Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

There are 15 comments on BU Professors, Undergrads Adjust and Adapt as Grad Student Strike Begins

  1. I do wish the university wasn’t threatening departments and units with budget cuts as a way to force us to report on our students. Relationships between grad students and advisors are life long, so faculty have to think about that. We need to make sure our grad students can eat and get dental care in order to produce good scholarship that will land them a position once they defend their dissertation!

  2. Since this article focuses on disruption and uncertainty prompted by the strike, it might have been good to consider a different type of disruption and uncertainty: what many graduate student workers at BU face on a daily basis. Without adequate financial compensation or medical coverage, they face constant disruption and uncertainty when it comes to paying bills, and even getting to campus, which has to be juggled with their considerable work load as well as their own studies. Many PhD students receive stipends in the range of 27K-28K, no where near what they need to live on. BU needs to give them fair compensation. The grad workers strike may be disruptive but, as Congresswoman Pressley said yesterday, it was also wholly preventable.

    1. Yes, thank you for this comment, Prof. Silber. Glad to see the grad students still have support for their struggle. This is about basic justice – and it was wholly preventable.

  3. if disruptions to grad-student led classes and sections were really “not acceptable” to the provost, the university should have tried a little harder to negotiate in good faith over the last year. this strike did not come from nowhere.

  4. If grad students are so important, why can’t the university guarantee a subsistence wage to them? Living in Boston is expensive, and has gotten even worse in recent years.

  5. You cannot pit undergrads against striking grad students. We know how important their work is, we recognize how much our education relies on their labor, and we want stability for ALL of our futures.

    Strikes should be and are disruptive, and I am okay with that.

  6. Grad workers are so important! Which is why they need to be paid a living wage and given sufficient health/dental coverage. This article only proves how much we rely on our TFs to make this university run— and they should be paid in a way that reflects that

  7. As a graduate worker and teaching fellow, I am striking precisely because I care deeply about my students. When I am paid a substandard wage and cannot meet my basic needs, I cannot show up for my students! How can I invest my energy into teaching and mentorship when I have to spend time working extra jobs, skipping meals, and commuting long distances to make ends meet?

    If BU finds strike disruptions “unacceptable” they should pay their workers appropriately so that we can all get back to doing what we really want to do: being there for our students!

  8. It’s crucial to acknowledge the indispensable role TAs play in enriching the academic experience. The concerns raised by faculty colleagues like Nathan Phillips and Paula Austin underscore the institutional reliance on graduate workers and the impact of their absence on course delivery and student support.

    However, the solidarity and activism demonstrated by the Graduate Workers Union reflect a broader conversation about labor rights and fair working conditions within academic institutions. The strike serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of academia and labor, urging stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue and equitable resolutions.

    In navigating these challenges, it’s essential for institutions like ours to prioritize constructive dialogue, mutual respect, and proactive measures to address the concerns of graduate workers. The strike presents an opportunity for reflection and collaboration toward a more inclusive and supportive academic environment.

    Solidarity with all those affected by the strike as they navigate these complex dynamics and advocate for their rights and fair treatment.

  9. “[…] we are concerned about the strike’s impact on teaching, research, and the lives of thousands of other students, and we are working to minimize that disruption.”

    Yes, if the disruption is minimized (and the “trains run on time”), the University will be well on its way to defeating the BUGWU. As Professor Klepper points out, the whole purpose of strikes is to be disruptive.
    Strikes are the only real tool that labor has to improve its situation within our current socioeconomic and political system.

    BU undergraduate students, while no doubt discomfited by the strike, are light years away from being in the situation, say, of patients left in a lurch when doctors and nurses go on strike (as has happened in England, France, Spain, and elsewhere …).

    Those who take over grad students’ classes are functioning as “scabs” in the technical sense. Chairs and other supervisors who work to “make things run smoothly”, despite the purposeful labor-related disruption, are helping out in the scabbing operation.

    The unionization of grad students across the entire country is a phenomenon that will only grow, and for justifiable reasons. The whole profession has been transformed in the last 50 years, with the number of tenure track positions shrinking and the various forms of renewable contract systems growing (In the 1970’s, roughly 90% of jobs were tenure-track; now it’s roughly 30%, a percentage that will only shrink as our national university system continues to be reconfigured.) Grad students increasingly end up in Lecturer positions (part- and full-time), “visiting professorships”, and now this new abomination, “Teaching Assistant Professor”. With the increasing “proletarianization” of the academic labor force, the push toward unionization across the profession will only grow stronger. It will end up following the path of teachers in public elementary and secondary education. Everybody will be unionized.

    Much of the early adult life of our grad students is spent in graduate school. When you could hope for a tenure-track job afterwards, you might be willing to live more austerely. Now graduate students are looking at that aforementioned collection of contingent positions (part- or full-time), which frequently takes them deep into their thirties or even beyond. Given this scenario, graduate students are increasingly less willing to live in penury, especially in a city like Boston.

    The question at BU, going way back when (remember: tenure-track faculty unionized in the late seventies), has always been: Can B.U. afford to be located In Boston? This question has now been extended to the plight of graduate students.

    Finally, those of us who participated in the faculty strike of 1979 will remember the lasting scars that the behavior of individual faculty members and administrators produced. The current graduate student strike will come to end. Memories of the behavior displayed will go on for a very long time.

    1. Professor Iffland, I want to express my utmost gratitude and admiration for you!
      Thank you sincerely for your unwavering support.
      I genuinely hope you are enjoying a fulfilling life beyond the confines of the classroom.

  10. [Phillips says the pandemic was a test drive for adjusting instruction in a moment of crisis: “During COVID, we learned we had to become flexible.”]
    Any “flexibility” the University has learned has been on the backs of graduate workers. In Fall 2020, when it was clear that COVID was here to stay, the University revoked its’ policy encouraging remote learning, and instead threatened not to pay grads who chose to teach remotely. The University will throw grads under the bus every single time if they deem it profitable to do so. They prove it to us at every opportunity.

Post a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *