Ahead Demonstration, Boyer Advises Grads Against “Walking Out On Your Students”

Boyer advised graduate students to “maintain your commitment to your students as educators.”

By Lee Harris, Editor-in-Chief

Dean of the College John Boyer urged graduate students Wednesday not to participate in a walkout planned for Thursday morning. 

In an e-mail to graduate student lecturers, teaching assistants, and preceptors, Boyer cautioned against the planned hour-long action, saying that participants in the Graduate Students United (GSU) demonstration would be “walking out on your students.”

The October 18 walk-out is scheduled for the one-year anniversary of GSU’s vote to unionize. It will be held at 11:03 am, to symbolize the 1103 votes in favor of the union.

Boyer's e-mail is below.

I have been informed that some graduate students in teaching and research positions intend to walk out of classes and labs on Thursday, as part of a protest that would have the effect of disrupting the learning of undergraduate students. I am writing in advance to remind all members of the graduate teaching community of your instructional responsibilities and related expectations.

As you know, teaching and research are at the core of the University of Chicago’s culture, mission, and purpose. For graduate students with instructional responsibilities, teaching not only is a fundamental part of your own education and development as scholars and teachers, but it also represents an important responsibility to the students you teach, a responsibility that is compromised by walking out on your students.

With great appreciation for all that you bring to the University’s intellectual community, I encourage you to maintain your commitment to your students as educators.

“We don’t take this action lightly–it comes a full year after we voted by a more than 2-1 margin to unionize,” GSU wrote in an e-mail Wednesday night that referred to Boyer’s email and urged the University community to come out in solidarity with the planned action. “We’re not walking out on our students. We’re walking out FOR our students.”