COVID-19 has put an incredible amount of pressure on higher education and its workers, including graduate students and contingent faculty who shoulder heavy workloads and make poverty-level or near-poverty-level wages. While simultaneously fighting to get universities to recognize them as workers, many graduate students around the U.S. are organizing, demanding, and even striking for better wages, benefits, and treatment. In the first segment of this week’s “Marc Steiner Show,” we speak with three graduate workers and organizers about what they’re fighting for and what these fights mean for the future of higher education: Rithika Ramamurthy, an English Ph.D. candidate at Brown University and president of the Graduate Labor Organization; Harlan Chambers, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University in the Institute of Comparative Literature and Society, and member of the Graduate Workers of Columbia – UAW Local 2110 and the Columbia Academic Workers for a Democratic Union caucus; and Dylan Iannitelli, a sixth-year Ph.D. student in Biology at NYU and a steward for the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, the grad worker union at NYU.
Then, in our second segment, we kick off an exciting collaboration with Jacobin magazine by talking with Matthew E. Stanley about his recent series of Jacobin articles on the continued relevance of forgotten or understudied struggles in 19th-century America. Stanley is an assistant professor of History at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, he is the author of “The Loyal West: War and Reunion in Middle America,” and he has a new book coming out with the University of Illinois Press called “Grand Army of Labor: Workers, Veterans, and the Meaning of the Civil War.”
Tune in for new episodes of The Marc Steiner Show every Friday on TRNN.