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UCs To Cut Graduate Admissions Post-TA-Strike

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

A never-ending carousel

Union workers warn the Universities of California have initiated steps to cut graduate admissions following the tentative agreement. You thought it was over? Yeah, same here fellow readers. I’m so tired of living through historical events. Every time one thing seems to be over… SLAP! The world hits us with something else. We had COVID, we had the largest academic strike in US history, and now we have something that may not be historic, but pretty stupid.

If you weren’t already fed up with our education system here’s another one for you. The UCs are planning to cut graduate admissions following the TA strike to accommodate the promises they made in the agreement. This seems pretty counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I mean, they settled and made a contract with the TA union which was great! A few agreements for Academic Student Employees included wage increases, childcare reimbursements, extended paid leave, coverage of campus fees, among other benefits.

We had about a month of rainbows and sunshine where we could bask in knowing our TAs were no longer worried about basic necessities like paying rent or affording childcare. For those of us pondering the possibility of going to grad school and being a TA yourself, things were looking up! But of course, we can’t catch a break. Not even a month after the contracts were ratified on December 23, 2022, academic departments began receiving word that they’ll have to decrease graduate admissions for the upcoming academic year to cover the costs discussed in the tentative agreement.

why is this happening?

Let me break it down. The UCs made a promise that they can’t afford with their current budget, so now they’re going to make it way worse to fulfill their promise of making things better. Pretty strange. According to the Los Angeles Times, the commitment to increase wages, while maintaining the current TA number isn’t possible because the state currently has a projected $22.5 billion budget deficit on its hands.

This information comes from a UAW 2865 survey, which is the United Auto Workers union under which the teacher assistants and other graduate students went on strike with. Specifically, UAW 2865 is the union that represents TAs, tutors, and instructors, constituting a staggering 19,000 workers across the UC system. The president of UAW 2865, Rafael Jaime, recently wrote an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee on February 10, 2023, discussing UC plans to cut grad student admissions. According to Jaime, departments have been warned to prepare for a20-30% reduction in campus-wide graduate student employment. Further, the UCs are considering eliminating discussion sections or increasing class sizes which will impede undergraduates’ educational experience. These propositions will have more alarming outcomes than we realize at the present moment due to the multi-year contract that was signed in May 2022.

How this will make everything worse

Let’s think about school during the strike. Many courses either went back on zoom or had no classes at all. Grades weren’t inputted so most of us had no idea where we stood in a course. The conditions for students were worse than during the covid-zoom days. I completely support and stand by the strike, and the student workers have stated the UCs made no indication this would happen. Though when we think of UCs cutting graduate school admissions, meaning that there will be fewer TAs in general, what will this look like for undergraduates?

President of UAW 2865—Rafael Jaime—expressed additional concerns, stating how despite California seeking to increase accessibility to undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds, it’s disappointing that the UCs are simultaneously planning to cut graduate acceptance rates. The consequence will be a substandard learning experience for undergraduate students in large classrooms without the proper number of TAs.

The Other agreement we need to look at

According to the multi-year compact between the UCs and Governor Newsom’s administration from May 2022, between the 2022-23 and 2026-27 school years, the UCs are supposed to add 8,000 new undergraduates and 2,500 new graduate students over the 4-year period. The enrollment growth is said to be supported by the administration’s proposed multi-million dollar investments. All these suggestions, of increasing both undergraduate and graduate admissions were proposed alongside increasing access to UCs, improving student success, increasing equity, and making UCs more affordable. Besides this, other agreements such as doubling online courses by the 2029-30 school year were further arranged.

This all looks fine and dandy for the next generation of college students, but not for us current undergrads. Again, we’re looking at larger classes, with the possible elimination of discussion sections altogether while the undergraduate population grows inconsistently with the graduates, who often do the majority of our instruction by conducting discussion sections or grading our assignments.

A matter of time

Only time will tell how this tale will unravel, although we have a pretty good view of how this will end. In many ways, it’s empowering how many protests and activist endeavors we’ve participated in over the last few years alone, but at the same time, it’s unsettling and exhausting. We may never have a year where we don’t have to fight for what we know is right, but when it comes to the UCs, I hope they know we aren’t going to watch on the sidelines.

Kristi is a third-year at UCSB studying sociology and history with a minor in feminist studies. In her spare time, you can find her trying to revive her peace lily, looking at photos of her dog, or watching benjiplant.