Response to ‘Grad students taking sides as union vote near’

Elizabeth Mallon - graduate student

In the DailyâÄôs April 19 article “Grad students taking sides as union vote nears,” it was repeatedly stated by union supporters that a union could help ensure the continuing competitiveness of the University.

A union, however, is not the only or necessarily the best way to ensure that the University stays competitive.

In my experience as a fourth year chemical engineering doctoral candidate, a union hasnâÄôt been needed to maintain our rank as one of the top-three programs in the U.S. for several decades.

My department knows that if it wants to continue to attract the best students, it needs to offer competitive benefits; in fact, the stipend and benefits offered exceed that of schools in other regions of the country that have higher costs of living.

There are many excellent departments on this campus âÄî as of 2006, there were 53 programs ranked in the top 20 public university graduate programs, 40 of which were ranked in the top 10, including aerospace engineering, economics and history.

Good graduate students are imperative to the success of these programs, and many chose to join such programs based upon a variety of factors, including graduate assistant compensation.

Looking forward, I think that the best way I can maintain the competitiveness of my department is to show up to campus every day, focus intensely on my research and help recruit prospective graduate students.

I trust that the faculty in my department âÄî and across the University as a whole âÄî will continue to foster an environment that attracts and retains strong students to preserve the impressive standing of our graduate programs; this is something that will always be in all of our best interests.