Recently, a graduate worker in biochemistry explained that he pays 105% of his salary to cover childcare for his two young children. He noted, “If it weren’t for years of savings and my wife working, there’s no way I—or any parent—could pursue a graduate degree at Georgetown.”
When he expressed his concerns about the hugely long wait to get his child into HoyaCare at a recent official graduate school town hall, Dean Grzywacz and other administrators simply laughed, acknowledging the extreme difficulty of actually using the highly-touted service.
Over the summer, a different graduate worker gave birth to a beautiful daughter. A few weeks later when the semester started, her department gave her two options: start at a full work load immediately, or take the whole semester off and forfeit her stipend.
Policies that impact families—from parental leave, to offering childcare at essential department events, to timing grad courses such that parents can pick up their kids from school—vary from department to department, and sometimes from case to case. By neglecting the needs of scholars with families, Georgetown University has set up yet another barrier to diversity and inclusion in academia, and thus our campus intellectual and social community is narrowed and impoverished.
Georgetown has no systematic and comprehensive family-care system, despite promoting an image of itself as valuing families.
At New York University, Article XVIIIA outlines the University to fund a childcare subsidy program workers can receive access to in order to diffuse the cost of childcare. At the University of Oregon, they have won paid bereavement leave, jury duty leave, family illness leave, and sick leave (Article XII).
GAGE is made up of a great variety of graduate workers, including many graduate workers with families, but this diversity is not sufficient for a community of learning in the 21st century. Together we can fight for a campus where the following become a reality:
- Family-protecting policies are consistent and clear across departments.
- Parents can access high-quality childcare that fits with their work and study schedule.
- Changes in family life (bereavement, maternity and childbirth, adoption, and more) are honored and given the time they need in a graduate worker’s life, through leave and flexibility.
- The health insurance policy offered is adequate not just for a single, young, healthy person, but someone with dependents and complex life circumstances.