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A collection of signs lay on the ground at a rally hosted by the United Graduate Workers of UNM in September 2021.

GPSA passes resolution in support of United Grad Workers

The Graduate and Professional Student Association of the University of New Mexico showed their support for the United Graduate Workers of UNM through a joint resolution, which was adopted on Saturday, Oct. 29. Joint Resolution 1F advises UNM to tackle various issues that affect graduate students at UNM and are in negotiation between the Union and the University.

“For us, this means that we want to uplift the voices of our constituents. I believe as a minority-serving R1 institution, we carry a shared responsibility to support marginalized demographics in pursuit of Higher Education,” Shaikh Ahmad, GPSA president, said.

The minimum pay for UNM graduate worker's full-time equivalent is at 50%, or around $13,231 over 10 months, according to Joint Resolution 1F. Currently, for UNM’s main campus, the estimated cost of attendance for a graduate student living on or off campus is $18,731, excluding tuition.

GPSA believes that if graduate students are given a living wage that allows them to afford basic needs, students will have less stress and will be able to perform better in academia and research, according to Ahmad.

“GPSA concurs with the sentiment to have an improved benefits package for graduate workers at the University,” Ahmad said.

Ben Garcia, a steward for the Union and one of the representatives of the biology department for GPSA, said that the Union is trying to show these are issues that don’t only affect a small group of students.

“I think the goal of our resolution is really just to emphasize that this really is more than just, we're asking for more money. This is that we're asking for enough money to be able to afford food and rent and health care all at the same time. And not be living in poverty,” Garcia said.

Moving forward, Garcia believes the Union needs UNM President Garnett Stokes and the UNM administration to realize that the graduate workers have been put in a difficult situation.

“What (UNM admin is) asking for right now is not really acceptable to anyone. It's not really ethical to pay us this little,” Garcia said.

Garcia believes that receiving support from the UNM community is as vital as receiving support from the GPSA and other graduate students, and he is looking forward to continuing negotiations with the University. Ahmad said that GPSA hopes UGW and the University administration keep progressing toward an arrangement that is agreeable to both parties and beneficial for graduate workers.

“In my opinion, it is important to acknowledge limitations and work together to achieve what is best for graduate workers,” Ahmad said.

Annya Loya is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @annyaloya

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