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The new acting dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is a man considered friendly to the Graduate Student and Teaching Fellow Union who has a practical understanding of the problems presently facing teaching fellows.
Edward I Wilcox appointed last week to fill the position vacated by R. Victor Jones--has served since 1958 as director of the General Education Program.
Gen Ed has an enormous number of teaching fellows involved in the program." Wilcox explained yesterday. Teaching fellows are at the heart of the program I was in as good a position as anyone to understand the concerns of teaching fellows."
Wilcox himself was a teaching fellow in General Education from 1948 to 1951. "In those days, teaching fellows were funded through the G.I. Bill," he said . "In some ways, today's because outside aid--like the G.I. Bill--has collapsed, creating an atmosphere of financial uncertainty."
Wilcox will need all the understanding and goodwill he can generate in the coming months. Following Jones's abrupt announcement last Spring that the Staff Teaching Scholarship (STS) program for teaching fellows was being dropped, irate graduate students formed a militant union that pressed demands backed by a threat to strike. (See story below).
'One of the Union's position was that the STS represents a salary for services rendered and not a grant, and therefore the abolition of the program represented a cut in pay for teaching fellows. Wilcox agreed that the STS was "a funding for work done," and explained that his euphemistic phraseology was designed to protect a "tax dodge."
"The Union knows that calling the STS a grant instead of a salary works their advantage when they fill out their income tax," he said.
The Union demanded that the STS program be restored. Pressured by the imminence of a Union work stoppage, the Committee on Fellowships and Other Aid last Spring announced a special tuition abatement program for teaching fellows. Wilcox said he sees the two programs as essentially the same. "The only change has been a semantic one," he explained.
Union organizers expect to continue their activities this Fall. They are counting on reduced aid to teaching fellows to add to their already formidable strength. Wilcox's preliminary assessment was that "teaching fellows seem to have made out all right" under the new program.
But he underscored his optimism with a word of caution. "It takes a long time for teaching fellow appointments to work their way through the University bureaucracy," he explained. "People waiting for their money may become fearful and irate. We are doing all we can to expedite this process."
Another Union demand was that it be recognized as the sole bargaining agent representing graduate students and teaching fellows. Wilcox agreed that "in an adversary role. I suppose a Union is best." But he added significantly. "I hope we can get out of an adversary role in relation to graduate students and teaching fellow."
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