VGWU Game Night, Friday, February 5th, 2021 @ 7pm (Zoom link below)

Join us for a digital Happy Hour this Friday, Feb 2nd, 2021. We’ll be hanging out, chatting, and playing Among Us. It’ll be a blast, so stop on by any time after 7pm.

ZOOM LINK:

Topic: VGWU Happy Hour
Time: Feb 5, 2021 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/j/96215680731?pwd=ajRnL1RCQy8xMjFLaGs1ZzlmRXlsZz09

As a reminder, you can play Among Us for FREE on your phone, or get it cheap on Steam for PC
Google play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.innersloth.spacemafia&hl=en_US&gl=US
App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/among-us/id1351168404
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/945360/Amo

We’ve Submitted Our Petition to the Administration with 156 Signatures and Counting! Here’s What We Told Them:

Haven’t signed yet? Read the petition and add your name by clicking here.

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.

Sincerely,

Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United

January 19th, 2021

VGWU Supports Anti-Racist Organizers in Denver–Drop the Charges!

Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United stands with anti-racist organizers in Denver, whose right to assemble and denounce injustice has been criminalized by the Denver and Aurora Police. We join a growing chorus of labor unions that call on District Attorneys Dave Young and George Brauchler to drop charges against these recently arrested organizers. An effective fight for workplace rights and protections is a fight for the value of Black lives. Police repression of protest is an extension of employers’ refusal to negotiate with workers. Drop the charges! Black Lives Matter!

VGWU members and other union members–sign the petition to show your support for anti-racist organizing!

VGWU Solidarity Statement with Those Affected By Winter Break Housing Policies

To: Vanderbilt Student Body, Administration, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Community Members

Subject: Statement of Solidarity Against Winter Break Housing Policy

November 18th, 2020

We, Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United (VGWU), strongly disapprove of Vanderbilt University’s latest Winter Break housing policy for Fall 2020. This new policy targets International, First-Generation, Disabled, LGBTQI+ and other marginalized students that rely heavily on on-campus housing for safe living conditions. It is morally reprehensible, given the rise in Covid-19 cases on campus, in Nashville, and across the country, for Vanderbilt University, itself a university that boasts being a leader of financial inclusivity, to impose financial barriers to any student that desires to stay on campus over break for their own safety or housing stability.

On October 7, Chancellor Diermeier and Provost Wente announced the student athletes, international students, and students experiencing or at-risk of homelessness may apply for winter break housing and that they would be charged a daily rate of $54.50/night starting November 23rd. Though this is the first day of Thanksgiving break, classes resume for online-only instruction after the week-long break. The last day of final examinations is not until December 12th. This means Vanderbilt will be double-charging students for staying on-campus during the final month of the academic semester (an additional $1000 to the starting semester-long housing rate of $5770). Students who reside in Vanderbilt on-campus for the duration of winter break housing face up to $3200 in housing charges. Meanwhile, in September of this year, the administration launched “Destination Vanderbilt,” and announced they would be spending $100 million dollars on this initiative to recruit new faculty. 

On October 10th, after public outrage, the Administration rolled back parts of the policy so as to cover students at-risk or experiencing homelessness. However, the administration provided little to no assistance on how to declare homeless status (and thereby achieve an exception to the policy) by the November 15th deadline.

On October 22nd, the Vanderbilt Student Government announced updates to the COVID-19 Hardship fund, created by the University to “support unexpected student expenses like last-minute airline tickets, housing, meals, technology for online learning and other necessities.” The updates included that the Administration would not permit the COVID-19 Hardship Fund to cover winter break housing accommodations. Fortunately, unlike their administration, Vanderbilt student leaders from Vanderbilt Mutual Aid and the Student Basic Needs Coalition have come together and support students who are not protected under this policy.

On November 9th, Vanderbilt released a statement of guidelines for travelling over the break and returning to campus in 2021. The update stated that students who need to isolate due testing positive or coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 “may not be able to return home on the date they currently plan to do so.” Students who wish to leave Nashville before their 14-day quarantine period ends must either remain on campus, or complete a waiver and arrange to have themselves or a family member drive them home. What this means is that the Vanderbilt Housing Policy could charge its students up to $700 for making the smart and ethical decision to remain in quarantine in student housing and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

This summer, despite petitions urging them to do otherwise, Vanderbilt made the decision to bring students back to campus. While we refrain from speculating about motivations behind the decision to reopen, the choice to do so comes with a responsibility to provide safe housing for its students. This responsibility does not expire on November 22nd

We, Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United, urge Vanderbilt University to revise its housing policy so as not to place financially vulnerable students at an unnecessary health risk, which frankly, was caused by their decision to reopen campus this fall. No student should be charged a fee for complying with COVID-19 related quarantine, regardless of their financial status. All students should be permitted (as they have in the past) to remain on campus without incurring additional housing fees for at least the duration of the semester. A University that prides itself on inclusion and support of its international and financially disadvantaged students (and benefits from the perception of being a University that does so) should have the decency to support these students who have been made particularly vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic and the poor ways in which it has been handled by institutions on every level. 

In Solidarity,

Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United

VGWU Hosting COVID-19 Digital Town Hall to Discuss Grad Worker Issues

On November 18th, at 6pm, we will be hosting a digital town hall to share our experiences, discuss our issues, and talk about what struggles we want to take up as a Union in the spring semester regarding COVID-19 policies at Vanderbilt. Register for the event here.

We will also be sending out a survey soon online so that those who cannot attend have a space to raise their issues and share their experiences.

VGWU Hosts Discussion on Unionization with Brown and Georgetown Graduate Unions

On September 3rd, VGWU hosted a forum on unionization with representative’s from Brown University’s Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees (SUGSE) and George University’s Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE). We asked our representatives many questions about their experiences unionizing in the age of COVID-19, and what it has accomplished for them.

It was inspiring to hear from our colleagues at Brown and Georgetown, and to know that unionization will pave the path not just for better economic, academic, and collegial security, but for better friendships and community as well.

Download the notes below to read more about the event and what we learned!

Statement of Solidarity with Wisconsin Protestors and those on Strike for Black Lives

August 28th, 2020

We, the Organizing Committee of Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United (GWU), are in full support of the protestors in Wisconsin, the NBA, WNBA, MLB, NFL, and other professional athletes currently on strike, and all others who are now either protesting, withholding their labor, or otherwise supporting the struggle for Black lives. 

Earlier this week, Kenosha, WI police attempted to murder unarmed Black man Jacob Blake, shooting him 7 times in the back as he tried to leave the scene of a dispute that he was reportedly mediating. His three children were in the car he was entering when he was shot.

Since this act of white supremacist police violence, a renewed wave of protests has hit the streets in Wisconsin. VGWU is in complete solidarity with the protestors.

On Tuesday night, Kyle Rittenhouse–a 17-year-old white teenager who murdered 2 protestors and severely injured another–was allowed to freely walk through lines of armed police in heavy riot gear, even as protestors shouted that he was the shooter and begged for action from police. It was only early on Wednesday, after Rittenhouse was allowed to escape back to his home in Illinois, that he was arrested and charged. In their own act of white supremacist violence against Blake and their support of white supremacist violence by Rittenhouse, the riot police, and the thousands of federal and state National Guard troops that are on their way to join them have once again shown which side they are on. 

The VGWU Organizing Committee strongly condemns these acts of racist police terror, and we are in full Solidarity with those who returned to the streets in Wisconsin and other communities to continue the fight against white supremacy. We call for justice for Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all other victims of white supremacist police terror. 

In solidarity with the fight against white supremacy, we call on the Vanderbilt administration to sever the university’s ties with the Metro Nashville Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, de-fund its private police force, and redirect these funds to provide educational opportunities for Black students. In doing so, we reiterate demands that we first raised in June, demands that received no response from the administration. We hold now as we did earlier that whether Vanderbilt’s commitment to “combat racism” is real or merely rhetorical will be seen in its budget. 

In Solidarity,

Organizing Committee
Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United

Event: Covid-19 Teach-in!

GWU Teach-in!

Vanderbilt’s campus is reopening, but the issues COVID-19 has caused for graduate student workers are far from resolved.

Join us to discuss STEM labs reopening, the graduate school mental health crisis and COVID-19, international student worker support, and why we need a union now more than ever!

When: Friday, May 29, 5-6pm

Where: Google Meet

https://meet.google.com/dob-bvaz-sqj

Questions? Email vandygraduateworkers@gmail.com

Event: Digital Happy Hour, Friday, Apr. 3rd, 5:30-7:30pm

To add this event to your calendar, see the Event Page on Gath.io, a privacy-focused events app

Join the union for (socially-distant) fun from your very own home! This digital happy hour is a great time to check-in with each other, talk about unionization, and just have some fun!

In addition to eating and drinking whatever you choose in your own home, we’ll also be playing some fun “Jackbox TV” games over the internet! Here’s the plan:

  • 5:30 – 6pm: Google hangouts chat
  • 6 – 7pm: JackboxTV games
  • 7 – 7:30pm – games or chat

Required Equipment:

  • a computer with internet connection (to view game stream)
  • google account (to use Hangouts app)
  • cell phone (to play the game!)

To participate, do the following:

  1. Go to GWU’s Twitch Livestream
  2. Send an e-mail from your Gmail account to vandygraduateworkers@gmail.com (to join Google Hangout)
  3. Go to Jackbox TV on your phone and enter the code on the twitch stream!

Event: Organizing for Equity

With important local and federal elections, new administrations, rising economic and social inequality, and a warming climate, change is in the air in 2020. But how do we make sure that change is for the better?

ORGANIZE!

To help build connections and share skills between people across Vanderbilt and Nashville fighting for equity and justice in the workplace, the city, the state, and the country, Graduate Workers United (GWU) is hosting an event called “Organizing for Equity.”

“Organizing for Equity” is a two-part event. In the first hour, a panel of activists and organizers from across Nashville will share their stories, experiences, and knowledge about how to organize for real change. In the second hour, attendees can participate in a variety of 25-minute workshops designed to help you build skills and connections and start “flexing” your organizing muscles. We will have workshops on organizing and accessibility, race, class, mental health, and unionization.

“Organizing for Equity” will be held on March 12th, 2020, from 3 – 5pm in the Vanderbilt Divinity School, room G29 (“The Space”). If you have accessibility requests or questions, e-mail GWU at vandygraduateworkers@gmail.com. To give us a sense of how many people are coming please register here: https://gath.io/MjCymCfW

Join us! Together, we can organize for a more equitable and just world!