TO THE EDITOR:
Last Friday's article (Grad student funds tight"" Oct. 3) shed some light on an important, yet rarely discussed, issue here at UNC.
The article stopped short, however, of detailing the deeper problems with the way the Graduate School funds its students.
While stipends remain low compared to other leading research universities, UNC is tightening the financial screws on graduate students.
Fee increases, for example, which graduate students must pay out of pocket, despite tuition remission"" make meager stipends even smaller.
A new policy that requires graduate students to pay summer school tuition in order to take required comprehensive exams during the summer months is yet another means of recouping the paltry $14,000 stipend paid to graduate students who work as teaching assistants.
The Graduate School's current plans to collect fee and tuition payments from students who receive outside funding in order to conduct off-campus research poses a far more costly problem for underpaid graduate students. Such a policy may even jeopardize the ability of many graduate students to accept prestigious outside grants and thus to conduct necessary dissertation research.
Underlying all of the backhanded measures UNC uses to take back the small stipends it grudgingly pays out to graduate students, however, is the complete disregard for the input and well-being of graduate students.
UNC should be taking steps not only to attract the best and the brightest"" students to the graduate school" but also to see to it that those students who accept Carolina's offer of admission are supported in a way that allows them to conduct high quality research and excel in their role as teaching assistants.
Low stipends and penny-pinching regulations are not a means toward this end.
Third-year Graduate Student