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NYU Threatens Striking Grad Students With Loss Of Stipends

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New York University has set a deadline for its striking graduate student teaching and research assistants to return to work or risk losing their stipends.

The university has told its striking students they must return to class and other assignments by next week. If they don't, they will lose their financial stipends and their eligibility to teach next semester.

The students went on strike on November 9th after NYU changed its policy allowing graduate students to unionize. The strike has forced some classes to be cancelled and others to be moved off campus.



NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed this report.

After three weeks on the picket line, NYU graduate students are defiant as ever, demanding a new contract from the school.

“We'd never have been pushed to this dramatic a turn of events if they'd just sat down and negotiated with us," NYU graduate assistant Miabi Chatterji said Tuesday.

Graduate teaching assistants went on strike November 9th to force NYU to recognize their right to bargain as part of the United Auto Workers Union, although the courts say the university doesn't have to.

Tuesday, administrators issued an ultimatum - either students stop striking by Monday or they'll lose the stipends they're paid for teaching and their eligibility to teach next semester.

"While they're on strike they're still continuing to get their stipends, they're continuing to get free tuition, they're still continuing to get 100 percent of their health care premiums paid, and yet they're declaring themselves 'on strike,'” said NYU spokesman John Beckman. “They say they're on strike, but they're holding their meetings in our campus locations, so it's a pretty odd strike."

For students whose teaching assistants walked out of class, NYU is offering options like taking classes pass/fail, dropping classes that have been affected by the walkout, or turning to one-on-one tutoring.

On Tuesday, some students were reacting to the strike better than others.

"I think the administration of the university sucks. I think they're completely out of line,” said NYU senior Victoria Ellison. “I think they have so much money - they charge us so much money - and they really need to give the graduate students basic necessities to live in the city."

“It's really annoying. Kids don't want to take a class and just get a pass/fail grade if they've been putting work into the class," said NYU freshman Anders Hester.

Complaints or not, strike leaders aren't backing down.

“President Sexton and the NYU administration should know that we're not going to bow to threats from bullies about potential consequences for subsequent semesters," said NYU graduate assistant Jenny Shaw.

With the December 5th deadline looming, neither side seems to be backing down. In fact, undergraduates are sponsoring a “day of action” Wednesday, complete with a public student speak-out and a class boycott all day long.

- Rebecca Spitz
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