WMU Faculty And Students To Rally For Equity As Part Of National Campus Equity Week

Posted at 10:58 AM, Oct 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-31 12:37:30-04

WMU sign Western Michigan University

Due to rain and possible storms, our Campus Equity Week rally will take place inside the Wesley Center (next to the flagpoles on main campus) 

KALAMAZOO, Mich. —  Activist groups at Western Michigan University will rally at the flagpoles on main campus on Octoberto promote equity on campus as part of national Campus Equity Week.  The week after Western’s full-time faculty union voted to censure Provost Timothy Greene for failing to act quickly to correct a gender pay gap, faculty and student groups will demonstrate to raise awareness about the multiple examples of inequity around the university.

“Obviously gender pay equity has been a hot topic on campus lately, and we want to keep pressure on the administration to address that issue” said Eric Denby, graduate student in History and communications officer for the Teaching Assistants Union (TAU).  “But the fight over gender equity is only one of many ongoing struggles at WMU right now.  We are demonstrating primarily to raise awareness for the lack of equity in healthcare for graduate students.”

According to Denby, student health insurance costs have more than doubled in the last five years, while the university’s share of those costs has fallen 42%, leaving graduate students on fixed budgets to choose between health insurance and student loan debt.  Because the costs have risen so dramatically, Denby said, TAU recently filed a grievance against WMU for refusing to renegotiate the health care provision of the contract.

“We want to know why WMU used to pay more than half the cost of graduate employee healthcare until 2010, but now pays less than 40-percent,” said Denby.  “Quality, affordable health insurance should be available for all graduate employees at WMU, not just those with wealthy families or massive student loan debt.”  TAU represents 545 graduate employees at WMU.

Members of the Professional Instructors Organization (PIO), representing more than 650 part-time instructors at WMU will join TAU on Thursday, to raise awareness for the history of cultural inequities in the way WMU treats part-time faculty.

Thursday’s rally is one of dozens of campus equity events on more than 100 campuses across the U.S. and Canada as part of Campus Equity Week, a grassroots movement started by a coalition of part-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants seeking “to bring greater awareness to the precarious situation for contingent faculty in higher education,” according to the Campus Equity Week website (