Diversity & Inclusion
Georgetown’s overall diversity and inclusion, in the words of one passionate graduate worker: “Listen, talking about how diverse and welcoming Georgetown is? That’s cheap and easy. Actually listening to people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, disabled people, women, international student-workers, and other marginalized groups? That’s a start. Changing policies to make our presence and productivity feasible? That’s a real commitment to diversity.”
The realities of graduate work—from nontraditional working hours to meager compensation—often preclude members of underrepresented groups from pursuing graduate degrees, thereby limiting the quality of the entire campus community. Marginalized and underrepresented graduate workers face structural barriers from the moment of enrollment through graduation, and GAGE is committed to addressing all of these problems.
Advocating as members and allies of these groups goes far beyond mere demographic representation, to financial, legal, and health policies and decisions. At the University of Michigan, their union was able to force the University to create a watchdog committee on affirmative action and anti-discrimination, publishing a report on the status of such efforts each year.
At the University of Connecticut, the University must make reasonable efforts to accommodate individuals who are transitioning in gender by trying to provide an All-Gender restroom within reasonable distance of the worker's office (Article 4, Section 6).
Financially, workers with lower-income backgrounds face an enormous challenge during the so-called “month of poverty,” the time between the first day of school and the first paycheck. Even with austere living, it is nearly impossible for Georgetown’s graduate workers to save enough for rent, facing this problem again every summer.
Of course, the problems facing marginalized graduate employees extend beyond the financial. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, international workers and non-US citizens, disabled persons, and members of the LGBTQ community often face discrimination.
All graduate employees share some concerns in common, but often marginalized workers experience them more urgently. DREAMers, socioeconomically disadvantaged employees, racial and ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women, disabled workers, and other underrepresented groups are those whose voices must be centered when negotiating health care plans, including dental and vision plans.
GAGE understands that a union will not solve all issues immediately, and that many of these concerns are long-term, institutional problems. But for this precise reason, it is important that a graduate-employee union take up these issues and advocate for change, because the underrepresented populations of our campus are all too often the groups whose complaints are repeatedly ignored. We can and must do better.