Indiana University at Bloomington said Tuesday that it will increase the minimum stipend amount and cut mandatory fees for graduate student assistants. Student academic appointees, as graduate assistants are known at IU, went on strike during the spring semester seeking union recognition and collective bargaining powers. At the time, minimum stipends hovered at about $18,000. In a campus memo this week, President Pamela Whitten and Provost Rahul Shrivastav announced a new minimum stipend of $22,000, retroactive to July 1. They also said that the university would cover the mandatory $1,435 fees that graduate assistants currently pay, plus certain course-specific fees.
Whitten and Shrivastav credited the university’s Task Force on Graduate Education with recommending these changes. Members of the unrecognized graduate student union, which is affiliated with the United Electrical Workers, have attributed such gains to their collective action and said that the stipend-and-fee announcement doesn’t settle their outstanding concerns about union recognition and collective bargaining. In a statement of duress published late last month, union members said they’d been forced into signing their new individual graduate assistant contracts as a condition of employment.