Finding Your Voice

The start of something new always comes with conflicts. Each new academic year at Temple often holds the promise of great hope with many of the similar snags seen year after year. These transitions detract for developed routine because ‘what do you mean my department didn’t process my assistance-ship letter yet so I can’t enroll for health insurance until the second week of September?!’ greets far too many of us each autumn. One more headache as we attempt to adjust our lives on a campus that is in the middle of a transition.

As graduate students, we no longer act surprised when our TA assignments switch right before or right after the start of a semester. The presence of construction vehicles around the bell tower makes us feel right as we watch the sea of students from new lofty perches in SERC or in the lobby as we seethe over the timeline for our own department’s new residence. These shifts in the physical landscape mimic shifts within departments and within the employees of the university.

Aside from demolition and construction, the adjuncts look forward to finally seeing their voice heard by the administration. Results of the hearing in Harrisburg between the two sides becomes public during the fall semester which could alter Temple in ways more than a new library ever could. Their ability to form a union could bring new attention to TUGSA and so we, all graduate students, must prepare to answer when the call comes through.

During our orientation meet and greets graduate students echoed each other with their concerns about their working conditions. Healthcare, pay, time off, advanced notice of appointment, office space, and many more issues found their way into the conversation. Rarely do our representatives fund enough time to adequately respond within those meetings. Many of the questions posed to us, we pose to ourselves weekly and to the steward’s council bi-weekly; “What should we done about [insert latest pressing issue]?”

This does not stem from lack of concern, but sheer volume of the task at hand. TUGSA represents nearly 800 graduate students and there are only 7 members on the executive board. We juggle many hats while striving to serve all members of the union and even those presently outside the union; everyone is potentially one semester away from being asked to teach a class. To ensure the union endures through each E-Board, we strive to develop a strong steward’s council to open communication between departments and through the union.

The steward’s council will answer for the graduate students during Temple’s transformation. A common consensus between departments advocating for the needs of their union is exactly what propelled the adjuncts and how TAUP ensures stability for our advisors. Using this voice we can shape our treatment as employees and as students. Taking an active role in reshaping the landscape for ourselves and future graduate students to enable Temple to grow large in the world of research universities.

I implore you to come out to the general me membership meeting on October 20 @ 1pm in Howard Gittis 220 to hear from the E-Board and meet others interested in how Temple’s plans could impact your future. Find your steward and voice your concerns or voice them directly at the steward’s council meetings held on the first Monday and third Thursday of the month at 1pm in 205A of the Tech Center. TUGSA exists for you and we need to hear your voice to drive the union forward. They listened to the adjuncts and they listened to TAUP. Now they will hear us.

Christian Ward
TUGSA Co-President
College of Engineering

Translate »