The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) sent a letter to university administrators earlier this month outlining the financial burdens faced by graduate research and teaching assistants.
The graduate student group is expected to meet with the Office of Higher Education and Life in March to discuss concerns about graduate pay rates.
provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed briefly addressed the letter at a meeting of the Faculty Senate on February 14. She said her office was considering the minimum allowance as the cost of living rose, even before the petition.
“Food prices alone are up, something like 25%, and housing in Morgantown is very expensive,” Reed said. “We have graduating students on food stamps who go to our food bank, so that’s an issue we want to address.”
The provost’s office is exploring the idea of increasing the minimum stipend and assessing the funding needed for an increase, according to Reed.
“We know that graduate students are extremely important to the institution,” she said. “They contribute to our research and teaching missions, and we want to support them in any way we can.”
According to the GPSS letter, graduate students working a maximum of 20 hours per week receive a minimum taxable stipend of $13,500 over nine months.
More than a hundred additional students have signed the GPSS letter since it was originally sent to administrators.
Acting Associate Marshal Thomas said in an email that he had met with GPSS since the letter was sent to him in early February. He said he was “sympathetic” to their concerns and told them he would set up a meeting with WVU leaders soon, which is expected to take place in early March.
Thomas said his office had gathered information regarding the letter and would listen to what the graduates had to say.
“I think there will be a good discussion, but what will come out of this meeting is too early to tell,” he said. “I hope it will be a productive meeting, and I look forward to it.”