Notice of Change to Administration of Research and Travel Grants

This year, the Graduate Division will take over administering Research and Travel Grants. The GSA Executive Board unanimously voted for this transition.

We felt that the GSA’s administration of the Research and Travel Grants Program was unsustainable. In the past two years, we have seen a tremendous increase in applications, with the GSA receiving over 200 applications last year, and we expect at least as many students to request support this year. The travel grants budget is slightly over $30,000 a year, which makes it impossible to fund all requests. In the past, the Travel Grants Coordinator has been in the position of deciding how to distribute these limited funds to an ever-growing number of students and how to communicate rejections to more than 50% of applicants who rely on this support. We strongly feel that graduate students should not be put in this position.

 Moreover, considering the growing number of applications each quarter, this program has been requiring an extremely laborious commitment on the part of the Travel Grants coordinator and the GSA treasurer, both of whom are not adequately compensated for this enormous amount of labor.

The GSA believes that the Research and Travel Grants Program is a great initiative and is very necessary for graduate students, especially those who do not receive travel and research support from their home departments. However, as the Graduate Division continues to grow enrollment numbers, we believe that this program needs to be revised and staffed by a paid employee.

We also note that the growing number of applications to the program is indicative of a larger, systemic problem: the underfunding and precarity of a growing number of graduate students at UCSC. For this reason, the GSA is redirecting attention from the administration of the Research and Travel Grants towards our campaign for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA):  

Our monthly wage is $2434 before tax. This monthly wage is only for the 9 months of the year for which we are employed, totaling $21,906 before tax. We make the same wage as grad students at UC Riverside. But Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable counties for renters in the country.

We demand a Cost of Living Adjustment for every* graduate student to bring us:

  1. Out of rent burden; and
  2. To parity with grad students at UC Riverside.

 At current rates, this amounts to an additonal $1,412 per month.** The COLA must be adjusted annually to keep up with the rental market. 

 Adjusting salaries for the cost of living is common in private and public sector jobs in California.

 *Regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment or funding status

**Sharing a two- or three-bedroom apartment, based on median rental figures from April 2018 - August 2019 (source: Zillow Rental Index)

 

UCSC Graduates Demand Equal Pay for Equal Work! 

 

Our monthly wage is $2434 before tax. This monthly wage is only for the 9 months of the year for which we are employed, totaling $21,906 before tax. We make the same wage as grad students at UC Riverside. But Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable counties for renters in the country.

 

We demand a Cost of Living Adjustment for every* graduate student to bring us:

 

1. Out of rent burden; and

2. To parity with grad students at UC Riverside.

 

At current rates, this amounts to an additonal $1,412 per month.** The COLA must be adjusted annually to keep up with the rental market. 

 

Adjusting salaries for the cost of living is common in private and public sector jobs in California.

 

When we say “Equal Pay for Equal Work,” we mean that we want our real wages to match the wages paid to graduate students at UC Riverside. Right now, our nominal wages are obviously the same as Riverside. Nominally (that is, in name), we are paid $2434 a month before tax just as they are. However, when you factor in the purchasing power of the wage in these two places (for example, the purchasing power needed to comfortably pay rent), then our real wages are much lower than those at Riverside. 

 

The national rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index, is often used as an indicator of how the national wages may be really stagnating even if they seem to be nominally increasing. When we ask for a COLA to bring us out to wage parity with Riverside and out of rent burden, we are simply choosing median rent rather than the Consumer Price Index as an indicator of the gap between nominal and real wages. The demand for COLA is a demand for the UC Boss to account for the uneven economic geography in which it employs its workers. 

 

COLA is also a demand to recognize the precarity of our seasonal unemployment as graduate student workers, who make a monthly wage of $2434 but an annual wage of $21,906, because the UC Boss only employs us for 9 months out of the year. 

 

*Regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment or funding status

 **Sharing a two- or three-bedroom apartment, based on median rental figures from April 2018 - August 2019 (source: Zillow Rental Index)

 

 

Funding Opportunities