Students protest salaries of part-timers

A group working to improve salaries and benefits for graduate teaching assistants made their voices heard at Colonial Inauguration events last month.

Supporters of the Graduate Teaching Assistant-Adjunct Alliance distributed fliers to parents at GW’s four CIs. The GTAAA is attempting to better working conditions for GTAs and part-time faculty.

GW administrators have said GW’s pay scale for part-time faculty is designed to compensate individuals according to their experience, among other factors.

GW Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said he addressed a parent’s inquiry about the group’s flier during one of the CIs. Lehman, calling part-time faculty one of GW’s “greatest resources,” said he told parents GW appreciates the ability to bring part-time faculty to teach.

The graduate teaching group claims, according to the flier, that more than 70 percent of the faculty at GW are employed on a part-time basis and teach more than 40 percent of all courses.

Lehman said some of the statistics the group cited in their flier were inaccurate and said he is currently having someone in his office verify the statistics.

The parent told Lehman she was satisfied with his answers, he said.

Jon White, a member of the GTAAA, said GW administrators told parents not to take the group’s fliers while they were distributing them outside CI events.

“(GW administrators) attempted to physically interfere,” White said.

Emily Cummins, the Student Association’s vice president of graduate policy, said the administrators instructed members of the Colonial Cabinet to prevent parents from receiving the information.

Mike Gargano, assistant vice president for Student Academic Support Services, said the administration did not prevent or discourage parents from receiving the fliers.

“The group was on public property,” Gargano said. “Anyone can (distribute fliers).”

Gargano said his only concern occurred when GTAAA supporters were stopping people in the middle of the street. He said then it became a safety issue and he just wanted people to be able to cross the street safely.

Cummins said GTAAA members did not block traffic or harass GW parents or students and did nothing illegal. She said parents receiving the fliers reacted positively to the information.

She said the GTAAA wanted to get its message out to parents and the distribution was part of the group’s “overall strategy to gain publicity really quickly.”

Gargano said GTAAA members can pass out any information they wish and others have the right to accept the information.

But University officials temporarily froze the Program Board’s funds because of alleged participation in the CI incident, PB Vice Chair Seth Weinert said. He said GW administrators froze PB’s funds after they became aware of a flier, which claimed the PB financially sponsored the production of the flier and payment of an advertisement. Weinert said he had to write to GW administrators and explain that the PB did not finance the flier or an advertisement.

“(The GTAAA’s claim of support) was an outright lie,” he said. “The PB has never supported the GTAAA in any way.”

Cummins said the GTAAA’s claim the PB supported the group financially was a mistake that the group immediately explained.

Weinert said the PB’s funds were frozen June 15 and unfrozen somewhere around June 18. Gargano said the funds were not necessarily frozen and the PB was still able to function.

“It was cleaned up in two minutes, so there was no big issue,” Gargano said.

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