LOYOLA SUPPORT FOR GRADUATE ASSISTANTS
WHAT SERVICES AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT DOES THE UNIVERSITY PROVIDE TO GRADUATE ASSISTANTS?
The University offers graduate assistants a competitive package of services, including competitive stipends that are benchmarked against other area universities, tuition reimbursement, health, dental, and vision benefits, travel and research awards, and professional and career development opportunities. For a review of services and support, please see here: https://luc.edu/loyolaforyou/ourcommitment/. While Loyola know these offerings are competitive, the University is committed to evaluating on an ongoing basis the support provided to graduate assistants and to making improvements where warranted. In fact, this ongoing evaluation is what led to the enhanced financial programs that the University launched within the previous academic year.
WILL STIPENDS BE INCREASED ANNUALLY?
We are committed to regularly undertaking market-based reviews to ensure that stipends and our other academic-based awards for graduate assistants are in keeping with our social justice values.
ARE GRANT-FUNDED GRADUATE STUDENTS RECEIVING A STIPEND INCREASE?
Grant-funded graduate assistants at the Lakeside campuses receive the same stipend increases as those extended to graduate assistants with stipends funded by the University. The University will supplement grant funding to ensure that all master’s graduate assistants receive a base stipend of $24,000 for a 12-month appointment and $18,000 for a 9-month appointment and that all PhD graduate assistants receive a base stipend of $34,000 for a 12-month appointment and $28,000 for a 9-month appointment. Additionally, grant-funded graduate assistants will receive the same experience-based stipend increases as those provided to master’s graduate students whose stipend is funded by the University. The Health Sciences Campus, based on student feedback, benchmarked its financial and other support awards for graduate assistants as part of its ongoing commitment to a fair and just academic environment in keeping with its Jesuit, Catholic mission.
WHAT PROMPTED LOYOLA TO IMPLEMENT STIPEND INCREASES?
We continually review our offerings of support to graduate assistants to ensure that they are competitive with comparable institutions and consistent with our Jesuit, Catholic mission, social justice values, transformative education, and our focus on student experience and satisfaction in all that we do. The stipend increase and other enhancements are the result of a review that included the solicitation of direct feedback from graduate assistants as well as a peer comparison of our graduate assistant support.
WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR RECEIVING AN ASSISTANTSHIP AWARD?
Graduate assistant awards are granted based on a student’s academic profile and potential for successful graduate studies and are renewed based on a student’s academic progress and their performance in a graduate assistant role.
WHAT IS THE UNIVERSITY'S POSITION REGARDING GRADUATE ASSISTANTS SEEKING OFF-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT?
In response to feedback by graduate assistants, the University no longer restricts off-campus employment for graduate assistants. On-campus assistantships may not exceed 19.5 hours.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO GRADUATE ASSISTANTS HAVE TO CONTRIBUTE THEIR IDEAS AND PERSPECTIVES TO SENIOR ADMINISTRATION AND TO GENERALLY HAVE A VOICE AT LOYOLA?
Graduate assistants can participate in shared governance through the University Senate, Graduate Student Advisory Council and Graduate, Professional and Adult Council, as well as through advisory groups within graduate programs. The University will additionally continue with listening sessions and other informal channels through which graduate assistants can share their perspectives with senior administration and faculty.
GRADUATE ASSISTANT UNIONIZATION
WHY HAS LOYOLA REFUSED TO BARGAIN WITH THE GRADUATE ASSISTANTS?
We believe graduate students who are engaged in teaching and research as part of their academic program are fundamentally students and, therefore, do not qualify as “employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act. Their primary role is academic. Graduate assistants are neither hired nor employed by the University. Rather, they are selected as students on the basis of their academic achievements. Their acceptance into our graduate programs and the degree awarded to them at the end of their graduate education are based on academic standards and not on labor or employment standards.
Consistent with our position, which is shared broadly within the higher education community, we are challenging graduate assistants’ eligibility for representation. Click here for more details about our philosophy on the role of graduate assistants.
HOW IS LOYOLA'S POSITION ON GRADUATE ASSISTANT UNIONIZATION CONSISTENT WITH CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING?
Catholic Social Teaching recognizes the rights of workers and others to organize to protect their interests. It does not teach that unions are the only, or even preferred, way to protect those interests. Catholic Social Teaching requires that organizations, including colleges and universities, find some method to achieve their social ends, promote integral human development, and protect the common good. It is just and principled to recognize the important relationship between the institution and our graduate assistants, address their needs, and provide space for dialogue, but it need not be through a union. It should also be noted that Catholic Social Teaching requires that the University and its constituent members both be guided toward the common good and not just maximizing their own economic interests. Through an academic relationship with our graduate assistants, we seek to demonstrate our social justice commitment by continuing to make improvements to our graduate assistants’ stipends, scholarships, and other forms of support. These measures are also intended to ensure that our practices remain competitive with comparable institutions.
IS LOYOLA'S POSITION ANTI-UNION?
No. To be clear, we are not anti-union. We are pro-social justice, and we greatly respect the voice of Loyola employees and students. Our recognition of, and ongoing relationship with, unionized part-time and full-time non-tenure track faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, our new police union and our longstanding relationship with maintenance employee unions, demonstrates our respect for the decision by those groups of employees to be represented by a union. However, we do not consider graduate assistants to be employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act as they are admitted via an academic program and are neither hired nor employed by Loyola. We respect our graduate assistants and continue to seek their input through well-established shared governance bodies—including University Senate, Graduate Student Advisory Council and Graduate, Professional and Adult Student Council—as well as through advisory groups within graduate programs. Finally, we are committed to evaluating the support we provide on an ongoing basis and making improvements when warranted, as evidenced by the recently awarded stipend increases.