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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Impact of Covid-19 on UC Graduate Students: Now is the Time to Improve their Funding, Not Cut It

Statement to the UC Board of Regents by Shane K. M. Wood, President, UC Irvine Associated Graduate Students; Department of Theater and Drama

The Pandemic we find ourselves currently enduring has shown just how precarious the lives of our students across the state are. Within days of the rolling campus closures, the student governments from each campus began receiving reports of students who would be losing their housing because of lack of work or inability to move as has been suggested for social distancing. In particular, our graduate population has been specifically impacted, many scrambling to create online classes with little to know training while being expected to also contend with all the other logistics

When speaking about the need for more funding for our graduate students, it is often mentioned that the state is cautious of another economic downturn and therefore will not contribute more money to the system. Frankly, this is an unacceptable stance to take. Our graduate students are a huge economic driver for the UC System and the state as a whole. Not only are we responsible for a large portion of undergraduate education, but also the research our system, state, and society depend on--including the continual study of the Covid-19 virus and the media, literature, and art we’re being urged to utilize during social isolation.

As the graduate students navigate the next few months, foregoing personal research, travel, and coursework as they continually adapt to the changing needs of this pandemic, the Regents must urge the state to begin investing in its graduate students, not only to support the current population doing this essential work, but to allow the UC to get back on track once this crisis is over to continue the enormous growth of the graduate population that is being asked of each campus.

A logical start is to insist that state commitment for graduate students be raised and expanded to cover the additional costs that this 20% increase in graduate numbers will represent to the state. The UC simply cannot commit to this increase without a firm commitment from the state for their increased and continued financial investment in this vital population.

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