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Dear Provost Wente, Chancellor Diermeier, and Vanderbilt University Board of Trust,
This past fall, Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United collected feedback from over 80 graduate workers on the issues they have been facing during the pandemic through a town hall and a survey. We compiled these issues into a list of demands in petition form, which we now present to you here. At the time of this writing, 154 graduates and allies representing all colleges across the university have signed, and more are signing everyday.
We sent a petition to you last spring with similar demands for the current academic year. That petition had nearly 700 signatures. We have expanded on the original to include these new demands in this updated petition: transparency regarding COVID-19 positivity rates, continued full coverage of COVID-19 health related expenses, real choices for graduate workers about remote/in-person work, a technology support subsidy, the upholding of the Mental Health Bill of Rights, and more.
The administration has consistently praised the flexibility of graduate workers in adapting to and embracing new working conditions — this petition provides you an opportunity to act out your commitment to listening to graduate workers and valuing their input.
We urge you to act on these demands, which have broad support from graduate workers across the University. Enacting these policies would greatly improve the mental, financial, and physical health and well-being of your workers. Graduate workers want this semester to be as safe and healthy as possible for everyone. We want to work with the administration to make this happen.
Our previous petition received no substantial, direct response from the university administration. In the spirit of good faith collaboration, we ask again that you the administration meet with us regarding implementation of these demands or that you respond substantially to all of the points of this petition.
Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United
January 19th, 2021