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IU faculty to consider recognizing grad student union in meeting next month

Justin Hicks
IPB News

Members of IU faculty met this week upon the initiative of members of the Graduate Faculty Council and the American Association of University of Professors.

They discussed the ongoing conflict between IU graduate workers and the university administration over unionization. The group agreed to convene a special faculty meeting sometime between May 2-6.

Ben Robinson chairs the Germanic Studies Department as well as IU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Robinson said he had 21 graduate instructors who teach his German language program.

“They’re not expendable and they’re not replaceable. So, the idea that they could be terminated is absurd.”

During this week’s meeting, faculty agreed to three points to vote upon and one point of discussion.

The points of vote under consideration are:

  • an extension of the grading period
  • changing policy that allows the provost to terminate Student Academic Appointees without the approval of their supervising department
  • recognition of the IU graduate union by the Bloomington Faculty Council and a call for the IU administration to recognize the union

Robinson said the university had sent memos to department chairs asking them to enforce disciplinary policies on striking graduate students.

“It pushes enforcement of it down to the faculty, and the faculty feel this isn’t how we would respond, and now you’re asking us to betray our consciences,” he said.

The point of discussion is deciding what would trigger a formal vote of no confidence in the provost, Rahul Shrivastav.

The faculty meeting will need 200 present to conduct business – meaning then the three points could be sent out by email for vote.

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said it was important for the university to continue to have a dialogue with its faculty and students, and plans to continue doing that with a task force on the future of graduate education that was set up this month.

“But before they do that, they'll implement things that will address some of these issues that we've been talking about,” Carney said. “So, we expect to have some more changes in place by the fall. But we have to continue having the dialogue.”