The SGPS continues to stand in solidarity with PSAC Local 901 in demanding adequate support for graduate student educators and researchers who are integral to the proper functioning of Queen’s University.
The university has stalled the bargaining process, but it is clear that our members need and deserve support now. While the university didn’t verify the reported vaccine status of students on campus until November, we have been in classrooms since September supporting undergraduate learning. While graduate funding packages have not increased since 2006, and inflation during that time increased by over 31%, we have been reworking our research proposals due to COVID-19 without the guarantee of extra funding for time lost. Finally, while our members have continued to experience racist attacks near campus and student housing, and while the university collected data last year showing that QTBIPOC students and students with disabilities feel much less safe on campus (in a report ironically titled “From Input to Action”), the university refuses to provided mandatory anti-racism and sexual violence training.
Our members have been isolated, underfunded, and overworked for years. COVID-19 outbreaks have made ignoring these issues even more untenable. Mental health claims on our insurance plan increased by a staggering 40% in the 2020-21 school year, and of the 667 people who answered our Fall 2021 member survey, 480 (71.96%) asked for private mental health care subsidies from the university. Our well-being is deteriorating during the pandemic, and the university cannot wait until after the pandemic to address our needs. We need support now in order to continue playing the important roles we do on campus.
The SGPS Executive