Wash U Grad Students Take to the Streets of Clayton to Protest Summer Wages

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Graduate student JB Duck-Mayr gives a speech during the Blitz the Ritz protest in Clayton on April 25, 2018. - DANIEL SHULAR
  • DANIEL SHULAR
  • Graduate student JB Duck-Mayr gives a speech during the Blitz the Ritz protest in Clayton on April 25, 2018.

Around 40 protesters demonstrated on the corner of South Hanley and Carondelet last night, about a block away from Washington University's 2019 Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni event. The invite-only event at the Ritz-Carlton honors graduates who “exemplify the ideal embodied by Washington University through their lives, work, and service.” Yet the graduate students gathered outside say they are unsure if they will be paid by the school this summer.

The protest, called Fight for Summer Pay: Blitz the Ritz, was organized by the Washington University Graduate Workers Union and had representatives in attendance from SEIU Local 1 and Fight for $15 to bring attention to working conditions. Grad students say their research continues all summer long, yet in the past they haven't been paid during the summer months.



St. Louis Alderwoman for the 15th District Megan Green, who is a graduate student at Washington University, address the crowd. - DANIEL SHULAR
  • DANIEL SHULAR
  • St. Louis Alderwoman for the 15th District Megan Green, who is a graduate student at Washington University, address the crowd.

St. Louis 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green, who is also a graduate student at the university, said, "We see fancy buildings going up. We see huge investment going into real estate, but we don’t see that same investment going into people.”

Another student, JB Duck-Mayr said, ”Right now I’m working three additional hourly gigs on top of my teaching assistantship and regular research work…That’s why myself and other grad workers at Wash U have come together to form the Wash U Grad Workers Union.”



A protester leads chants in between speakers during the Blitz the Ritz protest in Clayton on April 25, 2018. - DANIEL SHULAR
  • DANIEL SHULAR
  • A protester leads chants in between speakers during the Blitz the Ritz protest in Clayton on April 25, 2018.

This morning Dean William Tate of the graduate school sent an email to the Graduate Workers Union saying they would receive an additional month of pay in 2019, pushing the number of paid months to 11. “But the devil’s in the details and there’s a lot of details we don’t have from the admin about this," said Duck-Mayr. “We’re calling for a meeting with administration to go over these details.”

Protesters said they want a meeting with Chancellor Mark Wrighton, Provost Holden Thorp, and William Tate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences about how the extra months pay would be implemented.

The graduate students are planning to demonstrate again if a summer pay agreement is not reached. Graduate student Sarah Crosley closed out the protest, saying, “Unless the administration provides a just solution to the summer funding crisis, we’ll be back on May 4 at the Board of Trustees meeting.”

DANIEL SHULAR
  • DANIEL SHULAR

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