Nearly 800 Pitt grad students sign petition demanding funding extension

Grad+union+organizers+%22urge%22+Pitt+administrators+to+grant+one-year+funding+extension.

Joy Cao | Staff Photographer

Grad union organizers "urge" Pitt administrators to grant one-year funding extension.

By Benjamin Nigrosh, New Editor

Nearly 800 Pitt graduate students signed a petition created by grad union organizers requesting a one-year funding extension for all grad students.

Pitt offered faculty a one-year tenure clock extension in March, and grad union organizers said they see a funding extension as equivalent assistance for them.

“Provost Ann Cudd praised every member of the ‘Pitt Family’ for their ‘spirit of collaboration and community,’” the petition said. “We are now urging Pitt’s administration to treat its graduate students as equally-valued members of the ‘Pitt Family.’”

Grad union organizers request that the emergency funding package:

  • Be made available to any graduate student who chooses to access it, rather than being determined on a case-by-case basis
  • Provide additional support to any graduate student who may be struggling with housing issues or other hardships in the face of summer funding and travel cuts
  • Assist international students with any visa issues due to summer funding and travel cuts
  • Work to address the mental health issues that graduate students face by increasing options and availability for counseling, and eliminating any co-pays or fees to access services
  • Address the needs of graduate students with children and those doing additional caretaking labor
  • Use any funds that Pitt planned to spend on union avoidance to help offset the cost of this emergency extension

Grad students said in the petition that the University’s “case-by-case” stipend review system is not sufficient, and more action is needed.

“We shouldn’t have to compete against each other for these resources, or rely on personal relationships in our departments for an extension of our funding,” the petition said.

Pitt spokesperson Pat McMahon said the University has continued through the pandemic to uphold its “core commitment to supporting both graduate and undergraduate students,” and added that no graduate students have been denied a stipend since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Using both the University’s own resources as well as funding from the federal COVID-19 relief bill, we have provided students with additional funds to help them deal with emergencies,” McMahon said.

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