To the editor,
On Feb. 28, administrators of the University of California, Santa Cruz terminated future appointments for 54 striking student-workers and left dozens more without appointments, effectively firing nearly 80 student-workers across the university. We condemn this authoritarian act and endorse striking graduate workers at UCSC and other UC campuses as they continue their fight against starvation wages.
As UC President Janet Napolitano lives comfortably off her monthly housing stipend of $9,950 and $570,000 salary, graduate workers at UCSC are burdened by rent requiring up to 75 percent of their income. By striking to demand a cost of living adjustment (COLA), these workers are taking on an exploitative system that pervades academia: top administrators make inflated salaries while the university runs on underpaid and unrecognized labor of precarious teachers, researchers, and staff. We contend that the $1,412 monthly COLA sought by strikers is long overdue and could easily be provided by the UC.
In its reaction to the strike, the UC has shirked its obligation to education in favor of fascism. Peaceful student protests were met with violent, militarized policing, and the termination of striking graduate workers has condemned international students to possible deportation. The bravery of undergraduates across the UC system in solidarity with graduate workers, powerful undergraduate anti-racist movements at institutions like Syracuse University and the University of Oklahoma, and Indigenous student movements on Wet'suwet'en lands remind us that students are visionaries and collective student action is powerful.
In our own wildcat grading strike at UNC, we witnessed UNC’s investment in racism and worker exploitation. We also saw that bold actions led by precarious workers can win.