The following is a letter sent on 04/19/20 to signatories of our “Stop The Clock Petition” (see above to add your name). It is both a response to the recent communication by the administration (on 04/14/20) and a message that we are going to go beyond just petitions to push the administration to guarantee conditions to ensure the well-being of grads.
Thank you once again for supporting PGSU’s ongoing campaign to extend all graduate student fellowships, benefits, time-to-degree deadlines, DCE & ET/DCC enrollment statuses, and related international student support (I-20s and DS2019s) by one full year in light of the COVID-19 crisis. More than 700 of you have signed our petition so far!
On Tuesday evening, Princeton graduate students got an email from Sarah-Jane Leslie, Dean of the Graduate School. The email is a response to our campaign, with “several updates that address some of the questions and concerns” that we “have raised in recent days.” Dean Leslie concedes the “impossibility of research to continue this semester for some Ph.D. students.” But the only extension she is offering is one extra semester of DCE eligibility for students in the last semester of DCE status. According to the Graduate School, graduate students whose situations “warrant an extension of funding”–and they specify that only post-generals students are likely to qualify–should reach out independently to their adviser and DGS for support.
This is not good enough. Your adviser and DGS cannot solve this problem. To give you an extension, they need Princeton’s support. And Princeton can afford to support us: it is shameful that an institution with a $26 billion endowment is forcing graduate students to apply individually for accommodations in response to this universal crisis.
With your help, we will fight for universal extensions, not limited aid for whoever the Graduate School decides to include in the “impacted group.” All of us are impacted. The “research progress” of all graduate students “has been significantly impacted and delayed” by the current public health and financial crisis. All of us are facing restricted access to materials, freezes on research funding, brand new teaching demands, and the prospect of a decimated job market when we graduate. All of us are worried about our loved ones and our futures. All of us deserve help.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to build the heat. Petitions are a good first step. But now we need to move beyond the petition, and put sustained pressure on the people who control our funding, our visas, and our health. If you’d like to learn about our escalation plans, including our plan for a day of action, please attend PGSU’s General Members Meeting this Tuesday at 5 pm. Respond in this form to get the Zoom link for Tuesday’s meeting–or to let us know that you want to get involved or are just excited to join us on our day of action.
With respect, and best of health,
Princeton Graduate Students United