Departmental/Program Statements of Support

Environmental Studies

Dear colleagues,

UCSB graduate student teaching assistants have documented numerous ways in which current employment conditions and compensation are a major challenge, given the high cost of living in our area. These conditions make it quite difficult for many people to access a graduate education, and thus exacerbate the under-representation of women and people of color in the academy. Indeed, it affects the university’s ability to attract graduate students and to maintain top quality research programs. The Environmental Studies faculty support UCSB graduate students’ concerns over their compensation relative to the high cost of living in the Santa Barbara area. Our hope is that the campus, the UC system, and the State of California will support systemic change that will enable new generations of students to achieve their goals, and for this institution to continue to pursue its mission. The Environmental Studies Program will therefore not penalize teaching assistants for engaging in this strike; nor will the ES Program endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who participate in the strike.

David Pellow, Chair
Environmental Studies Program

Education

The Faculty in the Department of Education at UCSB affirm the rights of students to learn and, when they are employed by the university, their rights to engage in collective action, including striking, to improve the terms of their employment. We express our concerns with the long-term, systemic issues that have resulted in the underfunding of public education in California and that have affected the terms of employment of graduate students with respect to class size, workload, and housing arrangements. In an active commitment to advance social justice, we support the efforts of UC’s graduate students to address Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) concerns. To the extent we have control over the following matters, we will not penalize Education’s graduate students’ COLA actions. We commit ourselves to keep channels of communication open with all graduate students regardless of their involvement and participation in collective actions. Furthermore, we support efforts to alleviate systemic financial burdens, including that of graduate students, as well as collective bargaining, and hope that this will take place promptly.

Art

In support of the UCSB graduate students for COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), the Department of Art will not endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students participating in the strike. We acknowledge the critical labor that our graduate students provide ot the educational community as UCSB and remain committed to an open and productive dialogue with them. We encourage our administration to recognize their financial hardship and negotiate in good faith in the best interests of their welfare.


Film and Media Studies

February 26, 2020

Dear FAMST Graduate Students,

The statement below comes from your faculty.

The Department of Film and Media Studies faculty supports the graduate students in their pursuit of COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment) to bring graduate students out of rent burden. Our support is based on the recognition of structural inequalities that undermine the public mission of the University of California.

As a department, we will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in this strike, nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who have participated in the strike. This includes but is not limited to, graduate students who participate in COLA events, TAs withholding grades, or graduate students on full strike. Individual faculty will choose the form and extent of their participation or non-participation in COLA actions.

We will keep channels of communication open with all graduate students regardless of their involvement and participation in the strike.

Chicana and Chicano Studies

March 4, 2020

Dear Chancellor Yang:

The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies fully supports the University of California graduate students’ movement and demands for a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA). We understand UC graduate students currently pay, on average, more than 50% of their income on rent. This situation is intolerable as graduate students struggle to access basic necessities such as food and stable housing. Our graduate students are struggling economically, as are undergraduate students, staff, lecturers, and faculty (untenured and tenured).

Graduate students perform the very labor that enables the University of California to fulfill its educational mission. In their role as teaching assistants, our graduate students lead weekly discussion sections, grade exams and papers, and hold office hours. They also perform the critical, unpaid labor of mentoring first-generation Chicanx/Latinx students as they navigate a university environment that is often times hostile and unwelcoming. Our teaching assistants also examine relevant, timely, and sometimes contentious issues including racial, class, and gender inequality. With limited resources and an exorbitant rent burden, they raise consciousness and awareness inside and outside the classroom. We value and honor this critical and much-needed labor.

The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies emerged from the Chicana/o Movement in the 1960s. From that moment until today, Chicanx/Latinx students have been at the forefront of social movements to transform this campus. In 1994, nine Chicanx/Latinx students went on a hunger strike to create the first ever doctoral program in Chicana/o Studies in the world. More recently, Chicanx/Latinx students mobilized to save El Centro Arnulfo Casillas from possible demolition.

Given our past and present, the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies endorses the general strike on March 5 that graduate students overwhelmingly voted to support. To demonstrate our support for the general strike, our department will be closed for the entire day. Labor will cease on that day. Everyone is encouraged to join the striking students at Storke Tower.

Moving forward, after March 5, the Department pledges non-retaliation for all teaching assistants who are involved with the strike and who choose to withhold grades. We understand that faculty and teaching assistants may make accommodations for those undergraduate students (e.g. those on academic probation, international students, etc.) who need their grades immediately.

Chancellor Yang we finally appeal to you to call on your fellow Chancellors, UC President Janet Napolitano, and the UC Regents to resolve this impasse in a timely and respectful manner. State funding for higher public education has been systematically cut back for decades. Undergraduate and graduate students are living in their cars and skipping meals. Lecturers, staff, and many untenured faculty are forced to commute from outside Santa Barbara. People can only hustle for so long. It is inspiring to see graduate students rise up and demand social change. Please listen not only to them Chancellor Yang but everyone on campus who is struggling for fairness and decency.

Signed,

The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies Faculty

Feminist Studies

Dear UCSB Feminist Studies Community,

I am writing after our Graduate Committee meeting on this remarkable UCSB Strike, March, and Rally Day.

Faculty in the Department of Feminist Studies support graduate students’ pursuit of COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment). Graduate students have identified teaching and working conditions that undermine the core mission of the University of California. We support their efforts to seek remedies to these longstanding problems. Our department will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in this strike. Further, we will not endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who participate in the strike.

We encourage all members of the department to follow their conscience regarding these matters and to respect the choices that other members of our community—faculty, lecturers, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff—make during this time.


As Chair of the Department of Feminist Studies during this pandemic, I write in support of our graduate students and recognize the many ways they enrich the lives of our undergraduate and graduate classrooms, whether face-to-face or remotely.

Feminist Studies graduate students provide dynamic energy, labor, and commitment to Feminist and LGBTQ Studies to move forward social justice at UCSB and beyond. Graduate students are central to the university, and have answered the call in Feminist Studies to step up multiple times in response to immediate and pressing circumstances to teach our undergraduates. They are faced with the enormous stresses caused by the current move to remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency and with assisting undergraduates who are adversely affected by this emergency. I acknowledge that graduate students outside of our department also contribute significantly to our graduate student seminars and undergraduate courses as TAs, and support them in their efforts for a living wage.

Not only does feminist graduate teaching elevate the quality and experience of undergraduate education, graduate research is crucial to expanding the field and represent the future of Feminist and LGBTQ Studies. To better the working and living conditions for all graduate students, the COLA movement is advocating for social justice at the same time that financial pressures increase. Graduate students are strained by the demands of their research, teaching, studying, caregiving, and working in these extraordinarily precarious times.

I advocate, as Chair, the call to greater visibility and graduate education funding. I concur with UC Chair of the Academic Council, in her letter to Provost Michael Brown:

It is a familiar refrain that the research, educational, and service missions of the University are closely intertwined, and this comes to the fore even more starkly as we examine the situation for graduate research students. Graduate education and graduate students, as many have said, are the ‘soul’ of a university: the often invisible yet central aspect for all research universities. Support for them, along with protecting the high quality of graduate education UC offers, is critical.

As Chair, I support those graduate students who have withheld Winter grades. Should grades be withheld in Spring, I will work to ensure that TAs and Instructors have whatever support and protection I can give in my role as chair. I also fully support the movement’s call to address sustainable, long-term structural change to relieve the financial pressures graduate students face, as stated in the COLA Demands Under COVID letter to Henry Yang and UCSB Administrators.

The field of Feminist Studies as a whole is in line with “the philosophical core of the COLA demand: that people deserve access to healthcare, housing, and living wages.” As Chair, I support the removal of strike-related discipline and implementation of non-retaliation policies. I also join the call for UCSB budget transparency, efforts to reduce the cost of health insurance for graduate students, and enhanced support for UCSB staff at all levels.

As Chair, I agree with UC Chair of the Academic Council Kum-Kum Bhavnani, who communicates clearly what is at stake: “Once the immediate emergency is past and we have a better idea of UC’s budget for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, we suggest that graduate student funding be included as an explicit element in budgeting models going forward, so that the soul of the university is simultaneously nurtured. And in nurturing that soul, we also nurture the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, to ensure that UC will continue to be as excellent, if not more so, than it ever has been.”


Political Science

Dear Political Science Graduate Students,

We look forward to continuing our discussions around increased financial support for graduate students. Graduate school is an intensely challenging experience, both intellectually and financially. As faculty, we all have been graduate students ourselves and fully understand the stresses that graduate school puts on students. We also understand the challenges that living in a high-rent area poses, especially for people with lower incomes.

We affirm the right of graduate students to express their opinions, whether they do or do not support the strike. We are committed to supporting all graduate students in their progress to degree. We are committed as well to supporting undergraduate education. We firmly believe that graduate students share this commitment and will work together with us to protect especially vulnerable undergraduates.

We appreciate that graduate students may be worried about the possible implications of choosing to participate in the current wildcat strike, in particular the possibility that faculty might retaliate against them. This is far from the sentiments of faculty. After a meeting on March 5, we commit as a faculty to the following specific measures of non-retaliation:

  • Where the department has authority, we will not withhold future T.A. assignments from participating students after the strike has ended.
  • We will not grade participants and non-participants differently in seminars.
  • We will not withhold research opportunities on the basis of participation or non-participation in the strike.
  • We will not take into account a student’s participation status in grading field papers or comprehensive exams (which are in any event anonymous).
  • We will not discuss a student’s participation in the strike in the context of letters of recommendation.
  • We will not withhold advising time or advice due to strike participation.

We are unanimous in committing to these measures.

Students should know that it is not within our power to guarantee the following:

  • That striking students will not be fired
  • That future T.A-ships will not be rescinded
  • That financial aid packages will not be withdrawn
  • That students will be paid regardless of whether they are striking
  • That benefits will not be withdrawn
  • That force will not be used

Each of these decisions lies at the university level, sometimes even at the level of UCOP, and it would be irresponsible of us to tell you that the department can effectively prevent these things from happening.

East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies

The faculty of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies support our graduate students in their efforts to address the cost of living and the inadequacy of existing financial support for graduate students on campus. The rent burden experienced by many of our graduate students, lecturers, faculty, and staff has become untenable, and an increase in graduate student funding would benefit graduate student well-being, research, and teaching, which would in turn benefit our undergraduate students.

As a department, we will not penalize those who choose to participate in action related to cost-of-living adjustments. We will also not endorse disciplinary measures directed at graduate students for participation in such action. Moreover, the department will continue to recommend employment of teaching assistants as originally planned and will award graduate student fellowships independent of participation in campus actions.

We hope that all members of our community will continue to keep avenues of communication open and that our graduate students will come to faculty with any questions or concerns they have.

Asian American Studies

The Department of Asian American Studies supports Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) strike held by UCSB Teaching Assistants starting on 2/28/20.

Global Studies

Dear grads,

As we head into the strike, I wanted to wish you well in your collective action. The message below is from the faculty:

The Department of Global Studies faculty supports the graduate students in their pursuit of COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment) to bring graduate students out of rent burden. Our support is based on the recognition of structural inequalities that undermine the public mission of the University of California.

As a department, we will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in this strike, nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who have participated in the strike. This includes, but is not limited to, graduate students who participate in COLA events, TAs withholding grades, or graduate students on full strike. Individual faculty will choose the form and extent of participation or non-participation in COLA actions. We will keep channels of communication open with all graduate students regardless of their involvement and participation in the strike.


English

The Department of English faculty supports the graduate students in their pursuit of COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment) to bring graduate students out of rent burden. Our support is based on the recognition of structural inequalities that undermine the public mission of the University of California.

As a department, we will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in this strike, nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who have participated in the strike. This includes but is not limited to, graduate students who participate in COLA events, TAs withholding grades, or graduate students on full strike. Individual faculty will choose the form and extent of their participation or non-participation in COLA actions.

We will keep channels of communication open with all graduate students regardless of their involvement and participation in the strike.

Sociology

Statement of support from Sociology Department:

Faculty in the Department of Sociology support graduate students’ pursuit of COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment). Graduate students have identified teaching and working conditions that undermine the core mission of University of California. We support their efforts to seek remedies to these longstanding problems. The Department will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in this strike; nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who participate in the strike.

We encourage all members of the department to follow their conscience regarding these matters and to respect the choices that members of our community — faculty, lecturers, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff — make regarding how they will participate in the strike.


Theater/Dance

The Department of Theater and Dance faculty fully supports our graduate students in their pursuit of COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment). We are aware of the rent burden experienced by many of our graduate students. We understand that a raise in graduate student pay scales would benefit graduate students’ well-being, research, and teaching, which would in turn benefit our undergraduate students.

As a department, we will not penalize those who chose to participate in the COLA strike. We will also not endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who participate in the strike.

We hope that graduate students continue to keep lines of communication open and come to faculty with any questions or concerns.

History

February 28, 2020

Dear History Graduate Students:

We write as a department to affirm our support for you and for your efforts to address the cost of living and the inadequacy of existing financial support for graduate students on the UCSB campus. As a department, we will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in this strike, nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who have participated in the strike. The division makes actual appointments. However, the Department of History will recommend employment of TAs as originally scheduled and will award fellowships regardless of strike participation.

We are strongly in favor of immediate conversations between the administration and the graduate students, without any preconditions, to devise solutions to the unsustainable situation in which you are attempting to conduct your work.

Best,

The Faculty
Department of History
UC Santa Barbara

Anthropology

On February 28, 2020, the Faculty of the Department of Anthropology at U.C. Santa Barbara voted unanimously to adopt the following statement:

“The Department of Anthropology faculty supports the graduate students in their efforts to secure a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) to bring graduate students out of rent burden. We base our support on the recognition of structural inequalities that undermine the public mission of the University of California.

The Department of Anthropology will not penalize graduate students for engaging in this strike, nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who have participated in the strike. This includes, but is not limited to, graduate students who participate in COLA events, TAs withholding grades subsequent to the initiation of the strike at UCSB, or graduate students on full strike. Individual faculty will choose the form and extent of their participation or non-participation in COLA actions. We will keep channels of communication open with all graduate students regardless of their involvement and participation in the strike.”

CASEY WALSH, CHAIR