July 21, 2019 | 92° F

Rutgers student activist groups protest at Brower Commons

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Students from a wide variety of activist groups on campus met at Brower Commons earlier today to protest the effects that the new GOP bill would have on their lives and graduate education at Rutgers. 

Earlier today, a coalition of graduate students stood in solidarity against the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will affect tax on tuition remission for graduate students.

The event was co-hosted by the Rutgers American Association of University Professors - American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) and the Rutgers Graduate Student Association, according to the event page. The rally took place on the steps of Brower Commons.

A variety of students and organization representatives also came and expressed similar concerns. From net neutrality and gender discrimination to immigration and the cost of higher education, students and community members shared how the GOP tax bill will affect them.

“So we’re here to show the University and (Rutgers) President (Robert L.) Barchi ... that we’re a group of graduate students, we’re a force to be contested with and, you know, so much of the University’s teaching power resides with graduate students,” said Morgan Moyer, a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics.

Speakers chanted “no tuition without remission” and called out for “no more empty promises,” as they expressed their disagreement with the possible tax bill and demanded that the University take concrete steps to protect graduate students.

Alexandrea Safiq, a teaching assistant and graduate student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, said graduate students want to hear that the University supports its graduate students and values the work they do.

Safiq said the University benefits from the ideas that graduate students push for, and new research at little to no cost — teaching assistants and fellows cannot contribute to this valuable research without livable wages or tuition remission. 

“(Barchi) has made statements that he will support us, but they’re vague statements, and what we want to do is be at the table with the University discussing what contingencies we can put in place,” Moyer said about the University’s response.

Safiq gave a speech alongside her colleagues earlier today. She hoped to emphasize that without tuition she would not be at Rutgers. Coming from a lower-income family in the Pacific Northwest, she said she would not be able to afford the opportunity to pursue her education at Rutgers if it was not for the tuition remission she received during her undergraduate and graduate education.

Moyer echoed that sentiment and said that having to pay extra tuition over a five-to-six year graduate program is not affordable for many. Many of her friends and colleagues would not be able to remain in their programs due to the potential fiscal burden of the taxes.

In an earlier protest, The Daily Targum reported that graduate students do not see the $4,000 to $25,000 that they are awarded in yearly remissions, and that students could see an average of $3,000 in annual-University taxes as a result of the bill.

The rally happened just a day after student activist organizations protested a University Board of Trustees meeting at the Douglass Student Center.

“That’s the grad students, but we come out in solidarity. We support each other,” said Danny Taylor, a School of Arts and Sciences senior at the protest yesterday.

Ryan Stiesi

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