Grant Academic Extensions and Suspend Summer Tuition for York Graduate Students

Provost and Vice-President Academic, Lisa Philipps. FGS Dean and AVP Graduate, Tom Loebel. FGS Associate Dean Academic, Mark Hayward. Associate Dean Student Affairs, Susan Warwick

Write to the Provost and Vice-President Academic, Lisa Philipps, FGS Dean and AVP Graduate, Tom Loebel, FGS Associate Dean Academic, Mark Hayward, and Associate Dean Student Affairs, Susan Warwick and ask for an automatic program extension for all graduate students, including a full additional year of guaranteed funding that is equal to the baseline funding that all graduate students received in the 2019-2020 academic year. And a suspension of summer tuition for all graduate students at York University! Fill out your details on this page, click on ‘start writing to reach our draft letter, and remember to click ‘send letter’.

Petition by

To: Provost and Vice-President Academic, Lisa Philipps. FGS Dean and AVP Graduate, Tom Loebel. FGS Associate Dean Academic, Mark Hayward. Associate Dean Student Affairs, Susan Warwick
From: [Your Name]

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented and rapidly evolving public health crisis that has significant social and economic consequences for graduate students across Canada. We have seen the York community extend compassion for our fellow members in the last months and weeks. As graduate students, we have been working hard to ensure that our undergraduate students are informed when it comes to the day-to-day challenges that these times bring us. We continue to be their first point of contact as they struggle to complete their courses and make sense of their new reality.

As we collectively endeavour to navigate this uncharted terrain, our research has been disrupted, which threatens program completion. We are no longer able to access most university services, including office spaces, facilities, classrooms, libraries, and most laboratories. Some of us do not have adequate access to internet and computer equipment. Many of us are facing fieldwork disruption and delays in writing and receiving feedback from our supervisors and committees. Our supervisors and committees, who are essential for the completion of our studies, are also dealing with a disruption in their own professional and personal lives.

Graduate students in every department and program at York University have been affected by the current public health crisis. Many of us are facing financial hardships as a result of the disruption to our work and research, including loss of summer teaching contracts, childcare, and eldercare responsibilities. In addition, some of us are at higher risk due to pre-existing comorbid conditions, are international scholars who worry about loved ones back home, are essential service workers who put ourselves at risk every day, are primary financial supports for our households, and the communities in which we live. All of this is coupled with the latent stress and mental health problems that arise from social isolation and having to continue our teaching and research duties from home. It is clear that we require additional support from the university.

In light of this, we ask that York suspend summer tuition for graduate students normally due in May. We ask that graduate students remain registered in their programs with access to internal and external funding, awards, and bursaries to help alleviate the financial burdens. We also ask for an automatic program extension for all graduate students, including a full additional year of guaranteed funding that is equal to the baseline funding that all graduate students received in the 2019-2020 academic year. We have seen York University and other North American institutions grant tenure-track faculty a one year extension on their tenure clock. York should extend this policy to graduate students.

The cancellation of hundreds of conferences and colloquia has extensively curtailed opportunities for all graduate students to present research, get feedback, and network with scholars in our respective fields. Many universities have already begun to publicly announce that they will have ‘hiring freezes’ for the upcoming year. As the global economy heads towards a recession, students near the job market must confront a profoundly challenging hiring landscape.

Graduate students are a vital part of the scholarly community, through our research, teaching, and our service. However, in order for us to continue being a part of and contribute to our scholarly communities, we need to be given a fair chance to succeed. In this period of precarity and distress, an automatic program extension is critical for the well-being of graduate students. We realize that York University has an obligation to make important decisions about our future in the face of a crisis of this magnitude. We ask that such decisions be made with the necessary consideration for graduate students at this institution who today face more precarity and vulnerability than ever before.