The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

GSU Strike Starts Today; Illinois to Legalize Marijuana | Newsletter for June 3

Graduate Students United’s labor action starts today.
Panelists at a recent GSU event criticized the University’s investments as conflicts of interest.

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Good morning. It’s 10th week.

Graduate Students United’s labor action starts today.

  • Members of Graduate Students United (GSU) will stop work and hold picket lines beginning 8 a.m., in an attempt to gain voluntary University recognition.
  • “We’re not going to be doing any of the things that graduate student labor is essential for: that’s going to include teaching; grading; answering e-mails; doing our research projects,” Ph.D. student Laura Colaneri told The Maroon.
  • Many graduate student workers have canceled 10th week classes, telling undergraduates they will participate in a labor action from Monday through Wednesday at the latest. Thursday and Friday of 10th week are during reading period, meaning there are no scheduled classes. GSU has not yet decided whether demonstrations will continue past Wednesday.


GSU members picket, October 2017.
GSU members picket, October 2017. ()

Administrators are gearing up for the strike.

  • Dean of the College John Boyer separately e-mailed graduate students, undergraduates, and—in a rare move—the parents of undergraduate students, ahead of the labor action.
  • In his e-mail to undergraduates, Boyer urged students to attend class and to report to their advisers in the event that instructors are absent or unresponsive to e-mails.
  • In a more curt e-mail to graduate students, Boyer told graduate instructors to “[uphold] your instructional responsibilities to students in the College.”
  • Dean of the Physical Sciences Division Angela V. Olinto sent an e-mail encouraging faculty to report striking research assistants to financial administrators, in order to temporarily reduce their pay from externally funded grants. A sociology Ph.D. student posted the full e-mail on Twitter.
  • Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen sent an e-mail to all University students last night citing the University’s commitment to freedom of expression. Rasmussen wrote, “efforts to intimidate, harass, or to threaten the safety of others do not fall in the scope of freedom of expression espoused by the University,” and instructed members of the University to call the University of Chicago Police Department to report threats or harassment.

Community members from across the University have taken public stances.

  • More than 200 professors from across University divisions have signed a non-retaliation agreement pledging not to track participation or retaliate against any person taking part in the upcoming industrial action.
  • “Academic precarity hurts students and faculty at all levels,” one associate professor wrote on Twitter.
  • Even a biology lab—Muir Lab, a biochemistry and cancer research group—weighed in, urging UChicago to “respect grad students whose labor (and enthusiasm and dedication) is essential to make the university function.”

Follow The Maroon’s live strike coverage on our Twitter page.

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The Illinois Senate late Friday passed a bill establishing the ability to get an abortion in Illinois as a “fundamental right.”

  • The legislation passed 34–20, and is on its way to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk. Pritzker has signaled his support for the bill, which is called the Reproductive Health Act.
  • The bill repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, which contained provisions for spousal consent, criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions, waiting periods, and other restrictions on facilities where abortions are performed.

Also on Friday, the Illinois House passed HB 1438 to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

  • Passing in the House with a 66–47 margin, and having passed in the Senate on Wednesday, the bill is slated to go into effect on January 1, 2020 once signed by Governor Pritzker.
  • With the bill’s passage, Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. Read more about what this means for recreational users, small-scale growers, and students at UChicago.

New College Council Reps: In a runoff election, Student Government (SG) elected John Kunzo as a representative for the Class of 2022 and second-year Myles Hudson as College Council chair for the upcoming academic year.


In Viewpoints:

Editor Meera Santhanam writes in:

Aware Deshmukh urged students not to attend the UChorus, USO, and Motet Choir Concert this past weekend, contending that its central piece, 'A Child Of Our Time,' problematically renders the atrocities of the Holocaust palatable.

Recent PhD graduate Natalia Pavlou argues that UChicago grad students are appropriating the plight of truly oppressed groups.

Brett Barbin and Bruce Li, two of the four class of 2019 representatives, advise GSU to consider how 10th week labor action may adversely affect graduating seniors.


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