Illinois action blog

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not quite a student, not yet faculty

Today I want to talk about 'adult' students. No, not another story on 90-year-olds heading back to school (which I think is awesome). But graduate students. I personally think that a lot of the lack of action by some stems from the idea that as college student, one is still a 'kid' and thus shouldn't be having sex.

Graduate students vary in age, but safe to say that most are over 22, all have earned their bachelor's degree, and some might even be in a committed relationship. A lot of students feel that the simply cannot start a family while spending 10 hours a day in a lab setting, traveling around the country interviewing people or afford to take a semester off from a teaching assistantship. Surveys have shown that many heterosexual women who are striving for academic careers are partnered with a man who is also on an academic career path. If two people are graduate students, earning I'll guesstimate $20K a year each, should they be expected to afford a 300% increase in the price of birth control?

The Graduate Employees Organization at UIC has begun to organize around this issue. Adele from UIC GEO, and I emailed about why they are concerned about this issue:
It's interesting that you ask about how grad students have been affected by the price increase, because we do have such a strange position at the university as both students and employees.

Graduate students who are teaching assistants (employees of the University) do receive a waiver for CampusCare health insurance. This is the same plan that undergraduate students at UIC have. So the price increase also affects us.

Members of the GEO, like so many other people around campus, were really outraged by this price increase. The GEO recognizes this increase as a lack of healthcare coverage. As graduate employees we need to demand the full coverage that we pay for. Full coverage would mean that contraceptives would be made accessible.

Even though we feel that the price increase is an issue that we as campus employees need to fight for, we are also well aware that a broader injustice is being perpetrated to all women at UIC. As graduate students and employees we consider ourselves active and responsible members of the entire UIC community. As such, we feel that all groups invested in this issue should pool their resources and energy to work towards a fair and responsible resolution. A united front on this issue will, we hope, create more awareness and action around campus.

They will be rallying on campus this Wednesday in the quad at 1 pm to bring awareness to the increased price of birth control & their organizing. Whatever campus you are on, reach out and see if anyone else is also concerned about this issue. That graduate student union that means nothing to you as an undergrad just might be key to effective organizing. Find allies where ever you can!

technorati tags: birth control, congress, campus, colleges, university, Deficit Reduction Act, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Save Birth Control Now

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