27 Aug

New GAs: Welcome to URI!


Welcome to URI, grad assistants! The beginning of the academic year is a crazy time, especially if you are starting a new job as a graduate assistant. Undoubtedly, you already have questions. When am I going to get paid? What does my health insurance cover? Will I have this job next year? Maybe you’ve heard we are negotiating a contract and you want to know what that means for you. Maybe you were a GA last year and you still have questions, or a thing or two to say about what should go in this new contract.

All GAs, old and new, are invited to attend our grad assistant specific re-orientation on September 5, at 5pm in Edwards Auditorium. We will have speakers! We will have food! We will have answers to your many questions! Put it in your schedule!


20 Jun

Tell Us Your Story

This spring, nearly half our membership stepped up and took our 2014 Membership Survey. Thank you! We heard you loud and clear, and we’ll be taking a renewed sense of purpose, inspired by your experiences, to the negotiating table this summer. Our bargaining priorities — earning a living wage, securing better health coverage (hello vision and dental!), working towards guaranteed funding and preventing assistant exploitation — were deeply informed by your feedback.

The most powerful information we can leverage is the personal experience of our membership. We want to know more about how the issues we’re fighting to improve in our next contract have affected you. Do you struggle to pay your bills every month? Has graduate school put you debt? Did you have to reach deep into your pockets to cover basic medical needs? Have you lost your funding or had it threatened? Are you working many more hours than you are being paid for?

We’re not rabble rousing — we live with these problems, too. It’s time to do something about them.

Let us know how these issues are affecting you. We’ll take your (anonymous!) stories with us to the table.

Lastly, if you’re as fired up about these issues as we are, it’s not too late to get involved in the negotiations process!



11 Jun

Why I oppose the arming of URI campus police

Edwin Fava
Masters candidate 2015

Why I oppose the arming of URI campus police

My personal opposition to the arming of URI campus police stems from my belief that pistols and other sidearms exist for the explicit purpose of killing humans. By arming our campus police force, we will be injecting the possibility, and therefore the threat, of deadly force into every interaction they have with members of the community. This threat will be present regardless of whether or not it is warranted or necessary. I see no benefit to artificially escalating a situation by the introduction of a firearm, especially when the police force has acted effectively over its history without them.

As for tools presently at their disposal, our currently unarmed police force still has years of non-violent conflict resolution at its disposal along with well-armed town and state police close by. By arming our first responders we are taking a high-risk, low-reward gamble on an armed police force using their weapons to neutralize a dangerous criminal before they use them to injure or kill an innocent member of the community.

Furthermore, without an armed guard in every room on campus, any arming of officers will only lead to responding to, not the preventing of shootings. While Pres. Dooley seems to feel that a mass shooting on campus is an inevitable occurrence, the truth is that gun deaths in the US are at an all-time low, further lowering the justification of perceived danger as a rationale for arming campus police.

All of this is only compounded by the huge cost ($150,000 in the first year, $23,000 each year after) of arming the police. This does not even take into account the increased pay for armed officers or the potential lawsuits from wrongful deaths. These are funds that could be spent on positive applications such as greater graduate assistant pay or dental insurance premiums. While the arming of campus police may seem like a foregone conclusion, we can still raise our voices against this unnecessary solution in search of a problem.

What Do You Think?

01 Jun

Take Action on Student Debt

Hey GAs! There’s a bill on the Senate floor that if passed would allow students to refinance their existing debt at the lower interest rates being offered to new borrowers (>7% vs. 3.86%). Most of us have debt from undergrad, not to mention the additional loans than many have taken out to make ends meet as grad assistants. Sign the petition supporting this bill and, especially if you hail from outside RI (both of our Senators are co-sponsors), get in touch with your representatives in Congress to let them know how much your debt will impact your future.

02 May

Membership Survey

It’s time to negotiate our next contract and to do that we need YOUR HELP. GAU has successfully negotiated for raises and improved benefits before and we’re preparing to do it again over the next few months.

Fill out the survey to tell us about your experience as a grad assistant so we can advocate for your needs and priorities at the negotiating table. The more we know about your experience, the better we can represent you!

13 Feb

INEQUALITY FOR ALL screening and LIVE webcast with Robert Reich

Movie Banner

Graduate Assistants United is proud to announce that we will be hosting a free, public screening of “INEQUALITY FOR ALL” on Thursday, February 20th as part of a nationwide campus screening event. The evening will include a live webcast with Robert Reich and a robust discussion following the screening in the College of Biotechnology and Life Sciences Auditorium (CBLS 100).

Doors open at 6PM. The live webcast with Robert Reich will begin promptly at 6:30PM. This event is open to the public, but seating is limited so be sure to RSVP and arrive early!

RSVP: via Facebook

Trailer: http://bit.ly/1ikWtTn

Film Synopsis:

A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, INEQUALITY FOR ALL features Robert Reich – professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member – as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is an intimate portrait of a man whose lifelong goal remains protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. Through his singular perspective, Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. In this INCONVENIENT TRUTH for the economy, Reich uses humor and a wide array of facts to explain how the issue of economic inequality affects each and every one of us. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
15 Oct

HarvestFest is here!

Join the GAU for our Fall General Membership Meeting and HarvestFest Dinner on Wednesday, October 30th at 6pm at the University Club. Dinner and a drink ticket will be provided for all GAU members.

Our guest speaker will be Dean Libutti, Vice Provost of Enrollment Management.

Not a GAU member yet? Become one today! All Graduate Assistants at URI are eligible. http://web.uri.edu/gau/join-the-gau/

Check out the event flyer for menu details.


09 Oct

TA Workshop Encore: Help! My student wants to be Facebook friends: Setting boundaries between being friendly and being friends.

Back by popular demand!

After receiving numerous emails requesting we run another session of this workshop, we’ve decided to run an encore of this highly enjoyable round table discussion. Join fellow TAs on Tuesday, October 15th at 3pm in Roosevelt 300 for a roundtable discussion dedicated to establishing appropriate boundaries and maintaining professionalism inside and outside of the classroom.

13 Sep

Attention Teaching Assistants! We’ve got your back.

The GAU is kicking off the academic year right by lending a helping hand to our fellow Graduate Assistants who are responsible for teaching here at URI. Join us on Monday, September 23rd at 3pm in the Memorial Union (room 360) to learn some pro tips from your fellow TAs, share the best strategies for classroom management, gradekeeping, communicating with your students, and much more. We’ll be rocking it roundtable-style, which will give you the opportunity to share your specific concerns and challenges and to get some answers. Whether you’re instructing freshmen in the ways of classical literature or running a departmental session of URI 101, we’re here for you!

Please share this event with your fellow Graduate Assistants, and be sure to RSVP on facebook so we have a rough head count:







26 Aug

GAU Names Danielle Dirocco as Executive Director

Graduate Assistants United is thrilled to announce the selection of Ms. Danielle Dirocco as its first Executive Director in the history of the organization. A lifelong Rhode Island resident, Ms. Dirocco earned her B.A. in Secondary Education from the University of Rhode Island in 2009 as well as her M.A. in Political Science in 2013, also at URI. Ms. Dirocco was a Teaching Assistant during her Graduate Program, and was elected President of GAU for the 2012-2013 Academic Year.

As president, Ms. Dirocco advocated for URI’s teaching and research assistants to the Board of Governors when URI Graduate Assistant contract was rejected alongside other faculty contracts. Her work paved the way for the board to recognize that Graduate Assistants are a unique group with unique needs that differ from that of full-time or adjunct faculty and need to be treated as such. The Graduate Assistant contract was the only higher education contract ratified by the Board of Governors that included raises for all three years of the agreement.

In addition to her involvement with GAU, Ms. Dirocco is a member of the American Association of University Professor’s National Committee on Graduate and Professional Students, and is a founding member of the Young Democrats of Rhode Island South County chapter.