Graduate student workers are busy. We have coursework, academic projects, personal projects, some of us have families we’re caring for, outside jobs, friends, relationships, we’re worrying about making rent and paying bills, and finding the time to unwind. So why participate in the GEU?
Ben Parker, a steward in the math department says,
Being a part of GEU has been a valuable part of my graduate experience, as it has taught me to speak up about issues facing graduate students at PSU and other institutions. I really enjoy the sense of camaraderie that comes with being a union member, especially during the time in which we currently live.
Former V.P. of Politics, Lumas Helaire, shares reasons you may want to participate in the GEU.
I was recruited into GEU while was studying for my Master’s degree by a former colleague, the late Drew Mahedy. Drew was my colleague and a steward for Civil and Environmental Engineering. His zeal, along with the energy of the other union members, drew me further into the union. As a member of the Contract Action Team, I was able to be a part of the ratification of our first Collective Bargaining Contract. I eventually was nominated and elected for V.P. of Politics.
During my time as a member and officer within GEU, I took three big lessons away from my experience. First, that the work we do as graduate researchers, teaching assistants, and student workers have much more value than our administration would openly admit. I understand better the economics of education and how our – the graduate students – work fits into the economic model of higher education. I can now empathize better with all workers. I also understand as workers within a capitalist system, our power is derived from the work we do. The second lesson I learned is that we are truly stronger together. A single worker has limited power, but an organized and energized bloc is a threat to entrenched institutional power. It is the solidarity within GEU, and with other unions that will sustain the union effort. The final lesson I took away from time with GEU is the value of personal relationships.The relationships I built while with GEU helped to become a better person. It helped me to be more compassionate and understanding. It helped me to see the best in people.
Finally, my experience with GEU was emotionally and physically taxing, but if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Lumas Helaire Ph.D.
former V.P. of Politics