UB administration can afford a $90,000 Putnam’s renovation and a $18 million football field house. President Tripathi earns $696,970 per year. Meanwhile, TAs struggle to put food on the table.
The average cost of living for a student living on-campus is over $18,000 and over $21,000 for students who live off-campus. But the average TA stipend is only $13,190, according to the Graduate Student Employees Union.
The UB Living Stipend Movement is circulating a petition requesting a $21,310 minimum TA stipend. This is more than reasonable, especially when considering the financial strength and means of the university.
UB is investing millions of dollars into projects that improve its appearance such as 1 Capen and 1 Diefendorf, the $18 million field house, the Putnam’s renovation, the Silverman Library renovations and those completely unnecessary new signs with corny quotes plastered across campus.
The administration’s priorities are clear: they want to keep up appearances and attract new students – and new money.
Many graduate students have to take on a second job in order to afford basic living expenses, meaning they have less time and energy to dedicate to teaching and research. However, most international students are not able to get jobs outside of the university, making the low wages even more oppressive for that demographic.
This issue doesn’t just affect graduate students; it decreases educational quality for undergraduates. TAs do a large bulk of undergraduate instruction. If TAs are not paid a living stipend, they will likely be exhausted and run-down when teaching their classes. One Spectrum editor said she had a TA who had to cancel class because she was so exhausted and overworked and needed to work on her thesis.
TAs should be paid fairly so they have the time and energy to put toward providing us with quality instruction.
UB undergraduates pay a $375 Academic Excellence and Success fee every academic year and the fee is proposed to increase each year until 2020. But how can we achieve academic excellence and success if the administration cannot even pay our instructors properly?
In addition, over 17 percent of the undergraduate Comprehensive Fee goes toward athletics, which had a 32 million dollar budget last year. We certainly aren’t suggesting UB eliminate athletics; however, the editors of The Spectrum agreed that the quality of life for TAs should be at least as much of a priority to the administration as athletics.
And the numbers show us exactly where UB’s priorities lie.
Glamorous dining halls and football field houses are not the reason we chose to study at UB. Ultimately, students come to UB to receive an education. That is what our tuition and fee money needs to go toward. And a comprehensive, quality education cannot happen if our instructors are overworked and underpaid.
The university obviously has the funds to pay TAs a living wage. It is simply unethical that top ranking UB officials enjoy six-figure salaries while TAs, who work hard to instruct undergraduates and contribute quality research, struggle to make ends meet. We are sick of seeing our tuition money go towards superfluous projects with little input from us. Former UB administrators Dennis Black and Andrea Costantino who pleaded guilty to grand larceny earlier this month are paying the university back more than $30,000. Where is this money going? What services and support did students miss out on from this stolen university money? We are tired of seeing this university prioritize money and aesthetics over students’ education and quality of life.