FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GEO at UIC statement in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC-GEO), IFT/AFT AFL-CIO Local 6297 stands in firm solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and the over 200 other Indigenous Nations, that oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It is our firmly held belief that the sovereignty and governance of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation land comes from, and can only be decided by, the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

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The GEO Steering Committee recently signed in support of the Bluest Lie Campaign, a campaign against the potential introduction of the so-called Blue Lives Matter ordinance to the Chicago City Council. This proposed ordinance would categorize offenses committed against police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians as hate crimes. It distorts the purpose of hate crime legislation and we cannot sit idly by as it is discussed in our city government.

Currently, Illinois uses the hate crime designation to prosecute offenses committed on the basis of “actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin.” Attacks against police and other first responders are already classified by Illinois law as aggravated assault and therefore carry stricter penalties than assaults against civilians. Police are also protected by their unions and by city and state officials and enjoy protections far above those of regular citizens.

Bills similar to Chicago’s proposed “Blue Lives Matter” ordinance have recently been introduced in states and cities around the country, even though attacks against police are at record lows. These bills constitute a hostile right-wing reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement and to increasing calls for police accountability and racial justice. Nationally, as well as locally, the bills are opposed by a variety of civil rights and social justice organizations, including: Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Assata’s Daughters, American Civil Liberties Union, Uptown People’s Law Center, and the Anti-Defamation League.  In Chicago, many of these groups have come together to form the Bluest Lie Collaborative.

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Dear colleagues at UIC,

Our names are Daniel Vergara and Alicia Luque and we are PhD students at UIC. We are writing this post with the hope that we can raise awareness about the significant increase in the International Student Fee that will be applied to us by the Office of International Students (OIS) for the 2015-2016 academic year. So far, international students at UIC have had to pay an amount of $80 per semester for the services that the OIS provides to international students. About two months ago, the OIS sent out an e-mail stating that due to incoming budget cuts, the office is going to raise the international student fee to $130 per semester for a total of $260 per year. Coincidentally, this e-mail was sent before the Dean notified all university staff, faculty and students that budget negotiations were still ongoing and it was not yet clear which official entities at UIC were going to be affected by these budget cuts.

The OIS claims that the increase in the fee is to improve the services provided at their office but they will not provide us with any details as to how this money will be used. $260 a year might not seem much, but as international graduate workers who earn limited wages and are not allowed to work off-campus, we could better use this money to travel to conferences, conduct research, or simply pay rent. As international workers we visit the OIS for visa-related issues, but we don’t believe that those services are sufficient to justify the fee increase. UIC is an institution that takes pride in being diverse and multicultural, and that’s why this fee increase is an embarrassment to the OIS and to what UIC stands for. We came to UIC because it was a diverse institution that cherished and valued international students, but sadly we don’t feel that way anymore. During these past two months, we have been organizing to fight this fee increase but we need YOU. We need your support. Whether or not you are an international worker, this is a clear case of DISCRIMINATION and it should not be ignored. Please show us your support by reposting this, raising awareness, coming to our meetings, or even talking to your international colleagues about the fee increase. This fee needs to STOP!

Our next meeting will be Monday, August 10th at 5 p.m. at the UIC GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203). Join us!

Sincerely,

Daniel Vergara and Alicia Luque

Being a Department Steward for the GEO presents a unique set of tensions and challenges. On the one hand, stewards are tasked with collecting and reporting on the various concerns of colleagues in the department. Simultaneously, however, stewards also impart critical information in the other direction—namely, from the GEO leadership to the general membership in individual departments. My own department (Anthropology) has a generally supportive disposition towards the GEO. We have a history of strong attendance at meetings, rallies, and GEO-sponsored social activities. This support, however, is naturally counter-balanced and mitigated by the pressured demands of graduate school. This particular tension has led me to view my stewardship position as one primarily concerned with facilitation rather than political proselytizing.

When it came to my attention that the GEO’s database did not have listed many colleagues I was sure were interested in being card-signing members of the union, I drafted the following letter politely requesting that the recipients fill out a new yellow membership card. Below is a slightly edited version of that letter:

Dear _______________,
If you are receiving this message, it means that the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) does not have your membership information in their database. Although many of you support the union, GEO does not currently have a record of you having signed the card. If you have not signed a card, but are interested in becoming an active member, we would really like to have you. If you have filled out a card previously, I apologize for the inconvenience. Nevertheless, please take the time to fill out the yellow membership card I have enclosed, even if you have already done this before. These cards give you a voice in the union, so you are not accepting additional responsibilities by filling them out. The union represents you whether you support it or not; these cards simply ensure that you can vote and make your opinions heard.

This should be a quick and easy process, so please take a few minutes and fill this out at your earliest convenience. When you have completed the card, please return it to me ASAP. In person, on my desk, or in my mailbox are all fine. Thanks, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I am happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about becoming a card-signing member of GEO.

Sincerely,

Ben Linder
Graduate Employee Organization
Department Steward for Anthropology

I placed this letter in the recipients’ office mailboxes. While many (most?) of my anthropologist colleagues harbor generally union-friendly attitudes, the same can certainly not be said for all departments at UIC. Stewards in other departments face a different set of challenges, and these might be better met with more proactive organizing efforts. However, for many of us, stewards must carefully choose their battles. Many of our departmental colleagues are highly engaged and highly informed, though not always supportive of GEO. For this reason, antagonistic rhetoric aimed more at fashioning support through antagonism has limited value. Despite my own enthusiasm for the GEO, I must actively avoid the temptation to over-saturate the inboxes of my friends and colleagues. Many humanities and social science departments (such as Anthropology) do not represent the frontier of our organizing efforts; rather, it represents a standing army of supportive GEO members. My own efforts aim to grease the wheels of participation. Stewards in similar situations can write letters like this to make participation in union proceedings easier. Where support already exists, the steward’s role is primarily one of constant maintenance. Where support does not exist, reaching out to colleagues by direct, personalized contact will work.

When I left the above letter in my colleagues’ mailboxes, I enclosed a yellow card with personalized fields (Name, Department, etc.) already filled in. In addition to making this easier on the recipient, it simultaneously gives the (accurate) impression that I put some amount of time and effort into this mini-campaign. These are, after all, friends and colleagues. They respect personal outreach more than impersonal listserv emails.

Within a couple of days of initiating this strategy, over half of the recipients returned completed cards. Many more continued to trickle in over the course of the next two weeks. In the GEO’s continued outreach efforts, the union wants to avoid mass emails in favor of personalized forms of communication. Keeping the big picture in mind—social justice, fair contracts, safe workplaces, public universities, etc.—is crucial. But most of my time as steward is not spent discussing the big picture. The day-to-day efforts of stewards do not always require appeals to such lofty ideals. Sometimes, participation is about the signature on the yellow card. By tailoring our efforts in this way, I’m confident that we can engender the continued support of department – this is certainly the case for Anthropology . This is critical as another round of contract negotiations looms just over the horizon. When the negotiations resume, Anthropology will be there to provide input and support. By undertaking a few concerted but relatively simple tasks, we can incorporate more of our members’ voices. We would encourage interested members to take moment to send out a similar letter to the one above to their colleagues.

Tuition Differentials: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Tuition Differential (TD)?

Tuition differentials are not tuition at all; they are a fee charged to undergraduate and graduate students in addition to the base tuition rate. TDs are implemented according to degree program. TDs are not covered by tuition waivers.

Why do only some departments have tuition differentials?

A TD can be proposed by a College Dean, Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies, and is approved by the College Dean and Board of Trustees. In the proposal, the department must justify the TD with examples of why it costs more to deliver the program and how the funds will be used.

How do departments justify implementing TDs?

The main argument for TDs is to supplement high-cost programs, such as programs that require expensive lab equipment.

So then why do students in non-lab programs like Art History or Business pay a TD?

The TDs implemented in several degree programs where no apparent special costs are associated with the implementation of the program. Often TDs are simply used to pay faculty and fill-in budget gaps for day-to-day operations. Increasing fees to sustain basic operating budgets creates a disproportionate burden on graduate students.

What are these TDs used for?

The university does not provide information as to how the TDs are used. Some departments, such as CUPPA and Business, have disclosed that they use the money for their regular instructional budgets and general operating expenses.

Do TDs increase?

Yes. The average increase in TDs from the 2012-13 to the 2013-14 school year was $500.

Are continuing students subject to increases in TDs?

Yes. Students have to pay the TD that is charged that year even if they initially enrolled when the TD was lower.

Isn’t it a bad time to abolish TDs during a state budget crisis?

The State of Illinois is in the middle of a long budget crisis and has withheld promised funds to many state agencies including UIC. Budget cuts are a reality and need to be addressed by the state legislature. We need to demand that UIC gets the funding it needs to operate from the state instead of from its students. Additionally, UIC has around $300 million in unrestricted funds that could be used to address budget shortfalls in certain departments. Public institutions like UIC were established to provide affordable education to all. Students today are graduating with more than twice the debt that students 20 years ago had, and with fewer job opportunities available. Earning an advanced degree is not a guarantee for future success, making it harder to justify taking on substantial debt.

Is there a venue to address our concerns about TDs?

Unlike all other fees, concerns about TDs do not go before the Campus Fee Committee. TDs are unique because only the Board of Trustees have the authority to approve or revoke them.

How do I get involved with the GEO to address this issue?

The GEO is continually organizing around this issue. You can get involved by contacting the GEO (geo@uic-geo.net) and addressing the existence of Tuition Differentials within your own department, or, if your home department has not yet implemented a TD, help to organize in departments where one currently exists.

At the Board of Trustees retreat on Wednesday, January 22, both President Easter and Trustee Pam Strobel explained that the purpose of their retreats was to ensure that the U of I system fulfilled the promises of the land grant college mission. (For those of you not versed in the history of land grant colleges, they were founded in the 19th century as an alternative to traditional higher education, which focused on the liberal arts and was the privilege of the very wealthy. Many land grant colleges specialized in professional training: agriculture, mining, engineering, and the sciences.) One of the central premises of land grant colleges is that a practical post-secondary education would allow poor Americans to enter the middle class. UIC, in particular, was moved from its original location on Navy Pier to its current location because Richard J. Daley believed that expanding the university would improve the lives of Chicago’s working class and their children.

Certainly, a lot has changed since the land grant system was started over 150 years ago and since UIC moved to the Circle Campus in 1965. But, UIC’s historic commitment to a practical education for all, regardless of their economic background, should not change. Increasing tuition (30% since 2007) and shrinking faculty numbers and pay threaten this mission. If the Board of Trustees is truly interested in fulfilling its historical mission, a good way to start would be to pay its faculty fair wages.

 

United Faculty, the union that represents full-time faculty at UIC, has been in negotiations with the University since September 2011 and have had over sixty negotiating sessions. They entered federal mediation in November 2013. UF and the University have come to a number of tentative agreements; the sticking points are, no surprise, mostly financial. Here is what UF is asking for:

  • Shared governance with administration over curriculum and budgeting.

  • Tenure track (TT) employees will be given a 3.5% raise. The University has offered them a 2.75% increase. To put these numbers in context, non-union UIC employees (including non-unionized faculty in the Colleges of Dentistry and Medicine, academic professionals, and administrators) received 2.75% to 3.25% raises in 2013. And downstate at UIUC, faculty received 4.15% to 4.65% raises. The faculty’s demands are by no means extravagant.

  • Non-tenure track (NTT) employee minimum will be raised from $30,000 to $45,000 a year. This works out to a raise from $5,000 per class taught to $7,500 per class.

The raise in the NTT minimum sounds like a lot, and the University keeps claiming that they simply don’t have the money to pay the increased salaries. Independent audits of the University’s budget, however, indicate otherwise: a June 2013 report stated that the University’s financial position is strong. There are now over $1 billion in unrestricted funds, having grown $287 million in the past year; UF’s salary increases would cost approximately $3.5 million per year. It’s clear there are the funds available, but paying instructors seems not to be the University’s highest priority. The conclusion I draw from the University’s unwillingness to pay instructors living wages is that education is no longer their highest priority. Perhaps the new face of land grant colleges is one that values home redecoration over undergraduate education. That, at least, UIC is willing to invest money in.

 

UF authorized a strike in December, with over 95% of their members voting to strike. A walk out is anticipated soon if the University doesn’t begin to take UF’s demands seriously. Hopefully, today’s action sent a message that UF is going to fight for a good and fair contract. If not, the University is in for a shock when its core employees refuse to teach classes, grade papers, meet with students, or serve on committees. No matter what, GEO stands by UF: their fight is our fight.

The struggle to secure the rights of workers and a fair wage are affecting nearly everyone on the UIC campus. Which is why in a local, concrete, sense there is very good reason for union solidarity.

The faculty’s fight to win a fair contract hinges on two key factors. The first is wages. UIC has consistently, over the past 5 years, suppressed wages, electing to spend money on everything but those upon whom the university relies the most: its educators. The faculty’s efforts are an attempt to address inequality and ensure those who make the university function are compensated for their efforts. Secondly, the efforts of the United Faculty (UF) are aimed at improving the shared governance within the university to ensure those who have the closest contact with students have some control over the direction of their departments.

SEIU Local 73, which represents campus workers including service, maintenance, and clerical staff, is engaged in a similar struggle to protect its members’ wages and rights.

These struggles are the GEO’s struggles.  For instance, UF’s fight is very close to our own. If UF succeeds in lifting NTT(Non-Tenure Track) salaries, it will have a direct impact on how much TAs at UIC can reasonably expect to be paid. We are considered part-time employees, and our wages are often based on either the full-time salaries of NTT employees or their per class pay. A massive wage increase for our fellow instructors lays important groundwork for GEO to demand a living wage for graduate employees. Moreover, the GEO is constantly fighting to have its voice heard in a number of forums, including workplace rights, Campus Care, and tuition and fees.

The reasons for showing solidarity go beyond anything happening exclusively on UIC’s campus. If we look at the issues raised by the UF and the GEO as part of the ongoing crisis in American academia, the stakes are even more significant. Solidarity strengthens the rights of workers and slows the erosion of higher education. Many of us accept our low wages and poor working conditions because we won’t be here forever. But, when we graduate, what kind of work will we find? Nationally, 75% of college-level instructors are non-tenured faculty (part- or full-time). Many of us will not achieve tenure. A faculty union that guarantees living wages, benefits, and job security to faculty will be essential for those of us who decide to stay in academia.

We can think of this problem even more broadly still. Since the earliest days of organized labor in the United States, there are two key things for which labor has fought: Wages and control over labor conditions. In every industry, such as the fast food industry where workers continue to fight for the right to unionize, or state and local administrators and public service workers, individuals continue to face these problems. The economy has done labor no favors recently, making it more important than ever to stand by those whose plight is our own.

What enables to the GEO to strive toward a better workplace environment for its members by (for example) advocating for LGBTQ rights and improving working conditions is your participation, your belief that everyone deserves a living wage and the right to work in safe conditions without fear of discrimination. These are the challenges that have rallied individuals to union causes for over a century and these are the challenges we continue to face today. Showing solidarity empowers laborers everywhere – not just those at UIC and not just those in higher education, but all workers.

Solidarity,

GEO

UIC Graduate Employees Organization

The possibility of a walkout by UIC United Faculty may create a difficult situation for graduate workers who have professional relationships with faculty who are their advisors, supervisors, and/or committee members, as well as fellow union members. The following FAQ is meant to inform GEO members how they can support United Faculty while considering their obligations under the GEO contract. Members who would like to discuss their concerns or details about their particular situation should feel free to contact the GEO: staff@uic-geo.net or 312-733-9641.

What will a strike by the United Faculty look like?

A strike can take many forms, but basically, a strike is when workers withhold their labor. This may mean canceled classes, no grades, and no responses to work-related emails. Typically, striking workers will walk picket lines in front of buildings on campus, and rally or march through campus or the streets surrounding it. The picket line is meant to shut down the University. Crossing a picket line can be a stressful situation because it could appear that you are not supporting the workers on strike.  

Am I obligated to support the walkout?

GEO is in solidarity with all unionized workers on campus and off. The GEO submitted a letter to the University in solidarity with the United Faculty. Walkouts are an historically important way for workers to attain important rights and secure a living wage in exchange for their labor. The extent to which each individual union member expresses their solidarity or participates in labor actions is a matter of individual conscience.

What does the GEO contract stipulate about my support of the walkout?

As stipulated by law, the GEO has a “No Strike” clause in its contract. The GEO contract states that members covered by the contract may not participate in a sympathy strike, i.e. withhold their labor, during the term of our agreement with the University. In the advent of a walkout or strike by United Faculty, grad workers may not withhold their labor (e.g. cancel class, not show up for a scheduled shift, etc). However, we can support faculty in other ways. Our contract allows us to support the faculty on our own time. GEO members have the right to participate in peaceful, legal demonstrations when we are not on the clock.

A faculty member in my department told me that I don’t have to cross the picket line as long as I perform my work duties off campus. What does that mean for me?

Before making any decisions, you should contact the union or look to the union for guidance. Faculty members cannot guarantee that grad workers will not face consequences for appearing to withhold their labor from the University. The GEO is committed to its members and representing their best interests. It is important to keep in mind that contracts do not exist in a vacuum–the meaning of contract language is based on mutual understanding between the University and union, as well as precedent and in case law. For this reason, the GEO and its lawyers are better suited to help their members understand their contract and responsibilities.

What will happen if my actions are interpreted as violating the GEO contract’s “No Strike” clause?

A violation of the “No Strike” clause may result in termination from your assistantship. Each GEO member needs to decide for themselves if they will risk termination from their assistantship. Representation by the GEO and its lawyers is will be provided to GEO members who request it (and we have the best labor lawyers!). However, immediate reinstatement of assistantships and recuperation of lost wages is not guaranteed.

If my supervisor is supportive of the walkout and cancels a class for which I am a TA, what should I do?

It can be very encouraging to work with a supervisor that is supportive of workers’ rights. If your supervisor cancels the class for which you are a TA, then you do not have to show up for the cancelled class. However, any discussion sections, grading, office hours, emails, or other duties that you have in relation to your TAship will still stand and will need to be completed.

If my supervisor is supportive of the walkout and instructs me not to come in for a scheduled shift for my GAship, what should I do?

Contact the union for more advice about your specific situation: geo@uic-geo.net.

My advisor/supervisor does not support the walkout: how should I handle it?

For most TAs and GAs, your supervisor is the main person who oversees and can report on whether or not you complete your work. For this reason, you should be sure to complete all duties as assigned. If you do not want to cross the picket line but fear your decision will prevent you from completing your TA or GA duties as assigned or otherwise negatively impact your assistantship, contact the union for advice: geo@uic-geo.net.

Can I participate in the “student walkout” that students are discussing in conjunction with UIC United Faculty’s potential strike? 

GEO members are in a unique position because they hold student and employee status simultaneously. The University has a tendency to evoke one status or the other as it suits their purposes. GEO members may participate in the “student walkout” in their capacity as students (i.e. skip classes in which they are enrolled as a student). The consequences, if any, will be academic. However, you may not withhold your labor as a TA or GA with the excuse that you are a student. When you are working for the University, you are an employee and beholden to the union contract.

I am 6th year PhD student in the department of English at UIC. I work the equivalent of two full-time
jobs. But I can’t make ends meet.

When I began my PhD work here, I had already obtained a master’s degree – so I was no stranger to the rigors of academic work. It came as no surprise when a colleague of mine calculated that based upon the average reading load per semester and the average number of minutes it takes to read a page of academic prose, just the act of reading in our program was a 40/week job (38.8 hours/week of assigned reading). I would expect no less of graduate school.

In addition to this work, however, as a condition of my enrollment, I was also teaching 2 sections of composition. As comp is required for all UIC undergraduates, these courses usually fill to max capacity – 23 students. The First-Year Writing Program requires that these students complete four writing projects totaling 20 pages of finished work by the end of the semester. Each writing project must go through at least two drafts. Putting my rusty math skills to use: 2 x 23 x 20 x 2 = 1,840 pages of
freshman writing to be read, evaluated, and constructively commented upon per semester, in addition to
my 40 hours a week of assigned reading. I haven’t even factored in yet the time spent in the classroom
(both attending class and teaching it); working on, writing my own research; and applying for grants or
to conferences and publications. I won’t even mention time for pesky things like friends, family, and
exercise.

But again, I didn’t enter academia in order to pursue a life of leisure. Quite the contrary, my teaching
has been a huge source of fulfillment for me, and has informed my scholarship in ways I could never
have predicted. My problem is not that I have to work hard. My problem is that, while it ought to be
clear that I am working the equivalent of two full-time jobs, I still can’t make ends meet.

According to the cost of living calculator on UIC’s Financial Aid webpage, the cost of living in
Chicago for 2012-2013 is $17, 958. (It is worth mentioning that many other independent assessments
set this figure significantly higher.) Currently, I am paid $15, 500. Every year I am forced to choose
between taking on outside work (with the effect of slowing down my progress toward degree, and
extending my indentured servitude), or taking out loans and falling further into debt. Besides the
situation being untenable, it is unconscionable of UIC to tell its graduate students (who, by the way,
teach over one third of all undergraduate students) that despite all the hard work they do, they don’t
deserve a living wage. UIC calls itself a world class university. But, when it comes to employee
compensation, benefits, and working conditions, UIC is anything but world class.

Kevin Carey

Should the university provide affordable infant and child care for students and faculty? This is precisely the question the Office of the Provost asked in 2007 when it commissioned a study to determine the child care needs of UIC students and faculty. At first glance, it may not seem so obvious that a lack of infant and child care options on campus has costs for us all. But, these costs are real, and they come in many forms, from losses in productivity to missed classes and cancelled office hours. This means students get short changed, graduate students take a longer time to finish their degrees, and faculty make less of a contribution to the university.

For graduate students like me with small children at home, things look even bleaker. A lack of child care options means taking on a second job and missing out on department activities. I know, because over the last few years, I’ve had to do both. For the first two years of my son’s life, in an effort to save money, my partner worked full-time and I stayed home three days a week with our son. On days when I would teach, we hired a babysitter; I returned home in the afternoons immediately after I finished teaching, in order to take care of our boy. I also took on adjunct work, teaching evening classes at local university to make extra money. Needless to say, I made almost no progress toward my degree during those years, and I was rarely able to fulfill my teaching duties in the way I believed the job required. There were many times during these years when I contemplated giving up on my degree and staying home full-time with our kids.

Right now I have two children who need care during the day. For my son, who just turned three, we pay $200 a week to have him in a Montessori program near our home. Granted, there are other, cheaper options, like in-home daycares, but they are marginally cheaper (about $25 less per week) and provide less structure and fewer activities for kids.  For our infant son, we pay a student in our neighborhood to watch and care for him in our home for most of the week. This costs us another $400 per week. If my partner didn’t work full time, too, there’s absolutely no way we could pay for the care of our children on my university wages. And, if we didn’t pay for care, there’s absolutely no way we could both have careers. In other words, without having two incomes it would be impossible to raise our children in Chicago on a TA salary.

I want to be clear, though, that I’m not asking the university to raise my kids or provide me with free child care so that I can be a student and my partner can work. What I’m asking for is an affordable on-campus option that’s good for employees, students, and our children. With the number of education, nursing, and social work programs at UIC, it seem entirely possible to provide world class child-care options while also educating the next generation of educators, nurses, and social workers.

And, it appears that I’m not alone when it comes to facing these difficult choices between quality child care and professional obligations. According to UIC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Infant and Child Care, 40 percent of graduate students reported taking an additional job in order to pay for child care costs, while 77 percent reported missing out on opportunities to participate in their departments. This means a degraded academic culture and lost opportunities for all.

According to the same 2007 report mentioned above, providing infant and child care at UIC would “improve recruitment and retention, it would also benefit from increased productivity and a reduction of time lost due to faculty and staff absences related to child-care issues.” Not to mention lower stress levels for 80 percent of graduate students and 70 percent of faculty with infants or small children.

The university’s own report, then, identified the costs of not having affordable infant and child care options available on campus. This same 2007 report made specific recommendations to the Office of the Provost to radically expand infant and child care options at UIC. So, what’s happened? In short, nothing.

To be fair, though, UIC does offer on-campus child care for the children of employees and students—as long as the children are at least two years nine months and fully potty trained and you can afford the cost (about $200 per week for most employees and on a sliding scale for students). On the face of it, we might think this isn’t such a bad deal. After all, there’s at least an on campus option for child care, right? The question, however, for employees like me, is what to do for the first two years and nine months of my child’s life. Is it possible to raise your children and still pursue a professional degree? Let’s just say that it would be far more possible for far more people, if all UIC employees were paid a living wage and if UIC provided affordable care options for all employees and students who need it.

So, what actually happens now that my son has turned the requisite two years and nine months and finally qualifies for the UIC on-camps care? It turns out that there’s a waiting list to get in to the on-campus program. UIC’s child care facility can only accommodate 96 children, while back in 2007 the report noted that demand for child care was topping 400. Where might we put the additional 304 infants and toddlers who can’t be enrolled in our on-campus child care center? One idea: How about the Office of the Provost?

-Brian Charest, TA in the Department of English

***All statistics quoted above are from the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Infant Care at UIC: http://www.uic.edu/depts/oaa/childcare.html