The Graduate Student and Teaching Fellow Union last night reached its target enrollment of 500 and will go on strike Monday, March 19 at 8 a.m.
The strike will extend until the Administration revises the Kraus financial aid plan according to Union demands or until a majority of Union members vote to return to work and classes.
With 536 signed student pledges to support the Union strike, the Union's steering committee last night set the strike date and planned a series of activities for next week intended to educate the Harvard community to the issues behind Monday's scheduled walkout.
The Union's seven demands, which encompass the issues behind the strike, call for changes in the Kraus plan's calculation and distribution of financial aid to graduate students, revised University budgetary priorities, and a larger voice in educational policymaking.
The final demand calls for recognition of the Union as the sole bargaining agent for students in the GSAS. A Union statement issued last week calls for a contract with the Union, "to guarantee our rights, our incomes, and the quality of our education."
Next Monday's strike will begin with picket lines at lecture halls and office buildings, and will expand if student support grows, the Union's steering committee decided last night.
In a statement passed unanimously, the committee said that the Union will "spend the forthcoming week seeking to widen its support among graduate students and seeking the support of other segments of the University, especially the undergraduates."
The Union will demonstrate against the Kraus financial aid program outside of the Faculty meeting today at 4 p.m. while Edward T. Wilcox, acting dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, presents the plan to the Faculty.
An open letter and a leaflet entitled "Why These Seven Demands" will be sent this week to all Faculty members and undergraduates, outlining the Union's position on Harvard's financial priorities and calling for specific changes in University spending to ease the financial strains in the GSAS.
The letters call on the Administration to invest the $15 million of unspent income from the endowment in graduate education, adding that the Kraus plan "opposes imagined budgetary constraints to the interests of the entire educational community."
In conclusion, the letters list past instances of student-Faculty negotiations--the Commission and Committee on Graduate Education--and state that" 'legitimate channels' have failed to budge the Administration. We are being forced into a desperate situation in which a strike may be our only recourse."
Union members will man information tables in the Yard, Lehman Hall and other strategic places to explain the Kraus plan and the Union's demands to a large span of students.
At a steering committee meeting last Wednesday, Union membership stood at 225--almost 300 short of the 500-mark set at an open meeting of graduate students two weeks earlier as the minimum number required to authorize a strike.
The steering committee spend the last five days recruiting graduate students in departmental caucuses, in Lehman Hall and several other locations. Union membership grew to 360 by Friday and reached its target late last night.
Recruiting of graduate students into the Union will continue this week and throughout the lifetime of the strike.