Frequently Asked Questions
What is Solidarity Tulane?
- Solidarity Tulane is a group of graduate students working to improve conditions on campus for graduate workers. We believe that all graduate workers deserve fully-funded health care, the elimination of excessive fees, cost of living adjustments to our stipends, and greater voice in university policies.
What is the current campaign? Why are we focusing on healthcare?
- Our campaign is going to win fully funded healthcare for graduate workers. Why?
- Tulane’s peer institutions offer significantly better insurance benefits for graduate workers, threatening Tulane’s ability to remain competitive and attract top graduate scholars.
- Failure to provide adequate insurance coverage puts graduate workers and the whole Tulane community at greater health risk
- It’s the right thing to do! Graduate workers WORK! And just like any other workers, we should not have to choose between accessing health care and making ends meet. Healthcare is a right.
"Having fully-funded T-SHIP would be a huge financial relief for me. As an international student who is not free to work outside of campus as I please (aside from dealing with higher taxes), and with the need to plan for immigration-related expenses in the near future, I start every year of my PhD program with the feeling that I may not have enough money to sustain my professional projects in the US in the future…”
“The cost of medical insurance offered by Tulane is incredibly high. For someone who depends entirely on stipends, I spend the entire semester worried about how I will pay next semester’s fees. My bank account (which isn’t that full to begin with) is completely emptied every August and every January.”
“I neglected to see a doctor all last semester because, as a PhD student on an insubstantial stipend, I couldn't afford the fee.”
What has Solidarity accomplished so far?
- We have successfully lobbied the university to eliminate numerous fees for graduate students on stipend! We are now fighting to eliminate the fee for all graduate students so that everyone has easy access to healthcare!
How is Solidarity responding to COVID?
- We have acted as listeners and communicators during this pandemic. Over 150 people have responded to our COVID impact survey. We are amplifying (anonymously and with permission) these voices through our social media platforms to show how graduate workers are being impacted by university policies during the pandemic.
- Our healthcare campaign is even more important during a global pandemic. We must demand fully-funded healthcare for graduate students at the university to keep the university, the community, and graduate students and their families safe.
Who are “Graduate Student Workers”?
- Solidarity defines “Graduate Student Workers” as graduate students who receive or have received a stipend from the university as part of their program/studies.
Does Solidarity work for only graduate student workers?
- NO! We are a team of graduate students who want to make the university working conditions for ALL graduate students! We also do our best to boost the work of other graduate student unions around the country, as well as other organizations at Tulane and within the broader New Orleans community. We are interested in showing solidarity and building powerful coalitions that create lasting change.
Can I join Solidarity if I am not paid by the university?
- YES! We value input from all graduate students from all schools. It is critical for us to have allies across the university.
Can I join Solidarity as an undergraduate?
First off, thank you for the support! Second, a very appreciative no. We are focused on graduate student issues and while we recognize the importance of undergraduate support in forwarding our campaign, Solidarity is a space meant to visibilize graduate labor and give voice to graduate workers. We would love your support in our actions which you can stay up-to-date about through our email list and our social media. Contact us here!
Do all graduate students receive the same benefits?
- NOPE! The university employs a “decentralized” model for managing graduate studies (i.e. we have no centralized graduate school. Only a relatively powerless Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). This means that individual schools and even some departments can determine what their graduate students are paid and for how long, whether they have healthcare, and whether they have secure working opportunities. We are fighting to get the same healthcare for all stipended graduate students across the university.
How is Solidarity Tulane organized?
- Solidarity is made up of an Organizing Committee that meets once a week.
- We make all decisions by consensus (simple majority), usually within the OC meetings, or via email based on written protocol.
- We rotate meeting facilitators and note takers at every OC meeting.
- We have several working groups that focus on specific goals. These include:
- Social Media/Communications committee – works on putting out information, online content, and communicating events and actions.
- Strategy Committee – sets out concrete steps to move us toward our goal of fully-funded healthcare for graduate students
- Data Committee – collects and manages data and information about members, the university, and the campaign
- Research committee does research as needed in order to support various campaigns and actions; generates surveys to understand the landscape of experiences and needs among Tulane graduate students; collects and manages information about other graduate programs and universities
- AFTA National Campaign Committee – makes sure that Solidarity and AFTA goals and actions align; act as communicators between Solidarity and AFTA
- International Student Committee – focuses on international student issues and ensures that Solidarity understands and integrates the particular needs of international graduate students
What is AFTA? Why is SolTul associated with AFTA?
- AFT Academics is a union of contingent and full-time faculty, graduate workers, staff, post-doctoral researchers, undergraduate workers, and academic librarians. Many of SolTu members are AFTA members, but the group does not have an official affiliation with AFTA because we are not organizing for union recognition at this time. We are in regular communication with AFTA organizers and appreciate their expertise in advising us on strategies for building power. We would encourage you to join AFTA because being part of a national movement helps us build power and stay connected to academic workers organizing for the same things we are!