Letter to the Editor – Oct. 19. 2018
I was disappointed to read the Oct. 17 coverage in The Phoenix related to Loyola University Chicago graduate assistants and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73. The reporting was incomplete and neglected to include key information I provided to The Phoenix.
I personally met with The Phoenix in August and September to discuss the University’s position regarding graduate assistant unionization. None of my comments were included. Most recently, I offered to meet personally with members of the Loyola Worker Coalition who visited my office. The group declined my invitation.
Loyola recognizes and deeply values the many contributions graduate assistants make to the university and our students. Graduate assistants play a key role in our students’ educational experience and foster a campus culture rich in scholarship, research, teaching and mentorship. Loyola makes it a priority to offer our graduate assistants competitive stipends that are benchmarked against other universities. We have made several recent enhancements to benefit graduate assistants, such as increasing and standardizing stipends; eliminating the restriction on off-campus employment; adding dental coverage to the student health plan; and increasing awards for approved conference travel.
I also want to reiterate the university’s position on graduate assistant unionization. We strongly believe graduate students who are engaged in teaching and research as part of their academic program are fundamentally students and, therefore, don’t qualify as “employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act.
Graduate student workers are selected based on academics and leave the university with an academic degree that’s paid for by a Loyola scholarship.
I want to emphasize the genuine desire and willingness to continue to engage openly and directly with graduate assistants. The university has, and will continue to offer, listening sessions and other channels through which graduate assistants can share their perspectives with senior administration and faculty.
Additionally, Loyola’s graduate assistants are invited to participate in shared governance through the university Senate, Graduate Student Advisory Council and Graduate, Professional and Adult Council, as well as through advisory groups within graduate programs.
I hope in the future The Phoenix will consider the information we proactively provide and publish it to give readers a more balanced report on this important issue.
Thomas J. Regan, S.J. Dean College of Arts and Sciences & the Graduate School