Binghamton University's graduate student workers rally for livable wages
Graduate student workers at Binghamton University held a rally Wednesday to demand an increase to their minimum yearly stipend to reflect a livable wage. It's the second time student workers have rallied this year.
According to estimates from MIT, a living wage in Broome County is just over $31,000 for a single adult with no dependents.
Even the most generous graduate student stipends fall below that figure, per the university’s website.
In addition to work on her dissertation, graduate student Maggie Hames teaches a bio anthropology class. For that, she makes $17,000 a year.
Hames said for her and many others, a second job is out of the question — some fellowship programs don't allow it. Hames said she takes out loans and relies on government programs to make ends meet.
"We're relying on Broome County to feed ourselves, we're relying on programs like HEAP, subsidized childcare," Hames said. "So basically, the university is — instead of paying us — is relying on the county to support their graduate workers."
Chemistry graduate student Mohammadreza Sharghi said his department relies heavily on graduate students to run undergraduate lab classes. He said many of his colleagues were teaching and weren’t able to make it to the protest.
"Next time, I'd really like to see more grad students here," Sharghi said. "So they show their support for all of the grad students."
From our living wage petition drop! 1500 signatures and president Stenger didn't even show up the courtesy of showing uphttps://t.co/Jvt98Geim1— GSEU Binghamton (@GSEU_Bing) February 15, 2023
A spokesperson for the university said BU is working on a plan to raise stipends for a significant number of graduate students. It's not clear if that will be enough to meet living wage guidelines.
The university previously said potential raises may also depend on the amount of money SUNY receives in the next state budget.
After marching around the student union, graduate students delivered a 1,500 signature petition to university leadership.
The union that represents Binghamton's graduate student workers later commented on social media the university's president wasn't on hand to receive the petition.