Graduate students set up a tent in front of College Hall on Nov. 13, which will last until the administration meets the demands of their petition, that came as a result of the cancellation of the Graduate Assistant (GA) stipends in May 2016.
The tent marks the third action in the name of “Boldly G-AUB”, a group of unaffiliated graduate students who are seeking to reform AUB’s financial policy, and has led discussions with the administration since September.
“A tent is an occupation of space, but it doesn’t obstruct. We want people to be able to go into College Hall and leave College Hall. We also want to be visible and be here continuously,” said Aya Adra, a Psychology GA.
Organizers plan on keeping it until the administration meets the three demands they outlined in their petition, which garnered more than 1,000 signatures since its online release on September 11.
According to Adra, the group drafted a policy and presented it to the administration, along with a proposal. This was done after the Office of the Provost announced the temporary reinstatement of the stipends, until a new policy is drafted at the end of Fall 2017 semester.
In line with the last two actions, graduate students offered pastries and juice bottles to passersby. A donation box was also placed next to the tent, along with signs that read “Feed The Graduates”, and a timeline outlining the events since the cancellation of the stipends.
Associate Provost and Chair of the Graduate Council, Zaher Dawy, who was delegated to lead the discussions with Boldly G-AUB did not comment on the action.
“I have no comments on the tent. Our focus is on developing a contemporary GA policy that best serves AUB and the students; we are discussing plans and progress regularly with all constituents including graduate students and their elected representatives,” he told Outlook.
While the Fall 2017 semester is coming to an end, the students made it clear that the tent will remain in place until the administration meets the three demands.
Michael Doyle, an American Studies GA said, “There’s no administrative consensus yet. If [the policy] is going to change it’s going to change in a direction that is not good for us.
[Instead it’s] going to be beneficial to this vision of austerity, rather than cultivating a research community and sustaining the livelihood of the graduate students.”