Indiana University is implementing changes to its compensation for student academic appointees, the university announced Tuesday. The SAAs, graduate students who hold part-time teaching or research appointments, will receive a minimum stipend of $22,000, and their mandatory fees will be waived.
The decision is based on recommendations from the Task Force on Graduate Education, which IU says is working to develop a comprehensive analysis of graduate and professional education at IU Bloomington.
In a joint memo to the IU Bloomington campus, President Pamela Whitten and Provost Rahul Shrivastav said while many SAAs at IU already earn more than $22,000, the increase will help keep the university’s graduate education programs competitive.
The previous minimum stipend was $15,000. The university says the increase moves IU Bloomington from the bottom of Big Ten universities in average graduate stipends to the top half.
As part of the plan, IU Bloomington will also cover the mandatory $1,435 in graduate fees currently paid by SAAs, as well as any course-specific fees.
“The initiatives announced today address concerns and challenges that were first identified specifically by our graduate students and faculty. They also reflect the principles of collaboration, co-creation and equity that shaped the charge to the task force,” Whitten and Shrivastav said in the memo. “We are unwavering in our commitment to ensure our actions reflect the dignity and value we place on our graduate students.”
The decision comes after months of protests, including a four-week labor strike in April, from the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition, which is seeking union recognition from the university.
In a statement on IU’s plan, the coalition called the decision an “enormous win” and a step toward union recognition. However, the coalition said more work needs to be done.
“While this represents significant progress in improving graduate worker equity on the IU Bloomington campus, it is important to note that the recommendations do not cover several core issues faced by graduate workers, including cost-of-living adjustments, protection for international workers, improved benefits, and a neutral grievance procedure,” the coalition said. “These wins demanded incredible time and effort from graduate workers, staff, faculty, students, and allies, underscoring the necessity of recognizing our union as a long-term commitment to graduate worker equity. “
IU says the Task Force on Graduate Education will continue to consider a variety of topics, including health and wellness, curriculum and academics, housing, professional and career development, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
A final report from the task force is expected to be published by June 30, 2023.