U can stay competitive without unions

The University of Minnesota does not need a graduate student union.

In the 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 of Minnesota. A union, however, is not the only way âÄî or necessarily the best way âÄî to ensure that the University remains competitive.

In my experience as a fourth-year chemical engineering doctoral candidate, a union has not been needed to maintain our rank as one of the top three programs in the country for the last 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 my department offers exceed that of schools in other regions of the country that have a higher cost of living.

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

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

Looking forward, I think 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 and across the University 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 the best interest of everyone.