To the NYU Community 7th December 2005 Dear Colleagues, A Proposal for Resolution The proposal put forward by the Graduate Affairs Committee earlier this week marked a useful step in the process of resolving the current dispute, but, rightly or wrongly, it has been greeted with some skepticism by sections of the graduate student and faculty communities. We write to you to outline a development of that proposal that may move forward the process of resolution. We would suggest that the idea of a new structure of graduate student representation is liable to draw widespread support in the current situation if two broad provisions are put in place – provisions that are designed to guarantee that the new organization will be properly representative and will be able to be effective in its dealings with the University Administration. Provision A We propose that a new Graduate Assistant representation body be created. The function of this new body – which will be elected, and which will be distinct from the current Graduate Affairs Committee – will be to develop with the university the terms and conditions of graduate student employment. In order to ensure that this body is as representative and as broadly-based as possible, we propose that an individual from outside the university, about whose integrity and bona fides all sides can agree, be invited to advise in the design of the processes by which the new representative body will be elected. Provision BIf the idea for a proposed new body is accepted by a significant segment of the graduate-assistant community, we would ask that the University agree to the following three substantive conditions and give its guarantee that these conditions will be structural features of its dealings with the new representative body. In addition to these three structural guarantees, we propose that the University accept and guarantee a fourth condition relating to the treatment of graduate assistants who are taking part in the current strike action. Resolution of economic grievances. In cases involving economic matters, where a graduate assistant has pursued a grievance through the University’s internal dispute process and is dissatisfied with the Provost’s decision, he or she will have the right to a hearing before a member of an external panel previously constituted for that purpose. The panel will consist of five members, each of whom will be academics from outside of NYU, and will be a standing group appointed by mutual agreement of the University Administration and the new graduate assistant representative body. The same protections of the University’s academic decision-making which were contained in the previous union agreement will apply in this context. The panel member’s decision on the economic matters that come before him or her will be regarded as binding by all parties to the individual case and will not have general applicability. Predictability of stipends and packages. The university will extend its current commitment to maintaining a 3 year horizon for announcing stipends to a 6 year horizon for announcement, thereby ensuring that every entering student will have full knowledge of the minimum terms of his or her agreement with the university. The university will continue to honor its current commitment to pay 100% of the cost of the student health care package for graduate assistants. For each student receiving an award, these packages will be memorialized in a legally binding agreement. Guaranteed minimum stipend levels. The Administration will work with the new graduate assistant representative body to develop methods to benchmark appropriately the minimum NYU graduate student stipends in various disciplines against the minimum stipends of an appropriate group of 15 peer schools and will guarantee that the NYU stipends will be at or above the median of the relevant pool of peer schools in each case Good faith regarding responsibilities and consequences. We fully recognize the university’s need to ensure that any graduate assistant who undertakes responsibilities for the education of undergraduates carries out these responsibilities. Nevertheless, we would urge the Administration to step back from its declared intention of imposing sanctions on striking students beginning on Wednesday 7th December and to make the following two commitments: (i) No sanctions will be imposed on any graduate assistant who makes a good faith effort to complete his or her Fall semester responsibilities to the undergraduates for whom he or she is responsible; (ii) Any graduate assistant who does so carry out his or her responsibilities will be eligible to teach next semester. At the same time, we would propose that any graduate assistant who undertakes responsibilities for undergraduate classes in the Spring semester or thereafter ought to honor these responsibilities, or else accept the prospective penalties previously outlined by the Administration. We ask that you give these proposals careful consideration and hope that you will give them your endorsement. While they may not satisfy all parties, we believe that they provide a resolution that guarantees to our graduate assistants an effective system of representation, a process of grievance resolution, and a guarantee of improved stipends continuing into the future, At the same time, they also meet the university’s concern to ensure good governance and the integrity of the academic enterprise. An early and honorable resolution of this damaging dispute is in the interests of the whole university community, not least of undergraduate students, who have borne some of the burden of the dispute. Signed: David Garland Craig CalhounTroy Duster Faye Ginsburg Steven LukesEmily MartinFred Myers Rayna Rapp