Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Grad Student Strike at Santa Cruz - Part 7 (International)

From KSBW: There's more potential fallout to the wildcat strike at UC Santa Cruz. It started in December when grad student teachers demanded a cost of living increase, but it's ramped up over the last week with strikers marking on the picket line. Now that move could have a much bigger impact on international students.

The UC Administration deadline is drawing closer to submit grades or face termination-that days is Friday at 11:59 p.m. American students probably can find new jobs but international students here with student visas are in a much different predicament. "I would say that of many people out here they have second even third jobs," said Stephen David Engel, a graduate student on strike.

Graduate student workers have refused to teach, hold office hours, conduct research or post grades. The University has placed a firm deadline for them to submit grades or face being fired. It's estimated there are about 30 international graduate students on the picket lines-and they don't know what their future is if the UC follows through with its threat.

"Student visas that a lot of International students are here on have limitations in terms of employment , so we're only allowed to work on campus and only 20 hours a week." said, Russian International grad student, Yulia Gilichiskay. "If we lose this job, we're not able to work in other places. We have to pay extra tuition . So for people like myself it would be a defacto deportation for most International Graduate students," said English international grad student, Tony Boardman.

The UCSC administration has also reminded international students that "participation" in a wildcat strike is not, in itself, a violation of their immigration status. However, any actions that result in subsequent discipline or arrest may have immigration consequences. A teaching assistant job isn't the only job available on campus. "It is unclear to us if terminating our academic employment would prevent us from applying for those jobs," said Gilichiskay.

Despite that the international students remain unified in their efforts to receive a cost of living raise. "I think a lot of International students are frightened but I think we stick together. The greatest safety we have in Striking International students is in numbers," said Boardman. If the international students are terminated or suspended they believe they have a 15 day grace period before they are required to leave the country. There are about 200 graduate students who have continued to withhold fall grades and have until 11:59 Friday night to turn them in.


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