Holding Wash. U. accountable

Lucky Santino and Yifan Diao | Ph.D Candidates

On Aug. 31, as students were returning to campus for the fall semester, Provost Holden Thorp and Graduate School Dean William Tate emailed a large group of graduate workers on the subject of unionization. In this email, they claim that if graduate student workers voted democratically to go on strike, international students “might” have their visas revoked, “could” be considered “out of status” and would have to be reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), effectively threatening them with deportation.

They made these claims despite the fact that federal labor laws protect the rights of international workers to the same extent as those of working citizens of the U.S. and without citing a single case of an international student being deported as a result of a strike in the U.S. 

Curiously enough, our administration can’t seem to keep its rhetoric on international students consistent. After President Trump’s decision on Sept. 5 to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Chancellor Mark Wrighton emailed the entire Washington University community. He refers to the mission of protecting DACA as a “moral imperative,” saying of Wash. U.’s international students: “They are a part of our community…We should be embracing them, not abandoning them.” As part of the University’s efforts to protect these students, Wrighton promises to “zealously protect privacy of confidential student information. We will not release information about a student’s immigration or citizenship status to third parties unless required to do so by law or directive from a court.”

We believe in the spirit of Wrighton’s words regarding DACA on Sept. 5: “It is on each of us to work to ensure that every member of our community feels welcome, included and empowered to succeed.” However, with their anti-union messaging, the administration stokes already-existing fears to exclude those community members from holding decision-making power over their own lives.

We, the graduate workers’ union organizing committee, commit to hold the Wash. U. administration accountable for its hypocrisy. We call upon members of the University and St. Louis communities to join us as allies with our international graduate student workers against the tactics of our administrative body. Join us in front of the Danforth University Center at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14 to show your support for graduate students.

For more information, check out the WashU Graduate Workers Foward social media pages on Facebook, WordPress and Twitter.