LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – Unionized graduate employees at NMSU rallied today to bring awareness, and a solution to the problem of what what they call “out-of-control” tuition costs. Graduate workers delivered speeches and a research report making recommendations as to how the university can provide relief.

A report called “A Case for Graduate Tuition Coverage,” states all the reasons why NMSU graduate employees have unionized and are now protesting publicly all their concerns with the university.

Per the report:

For the 2021-2022 academic year the “on-paper” minimum stipend for graduate employees was $18,435. However, this does not account for the $6,189 in tuition and fees that graduates must pay to be enrolled
and therefore eligible to work as graduate assistants. While some graduate employees receive scholarships and grants to cover their tuition costs, the majority of graduate assistants at NMSU are paying roughly ⅓ of their annual salary right back to the university.

“A Case for Graduate Tuition Coverage”

Graduate employees gave public testimony on Thursday in front of Hadley Hall on the campus of NMSU over what they’re calling the “Current Crisis” for graduate employees of the university.

NMSU graduate employees contest that, “unlike graduate employees at the vast majority of peer institutions, NMSU graduate workers are forced to “pay to work,” paying over $6,000 a year in tuition and fees back to the University. After tuition and fees, the average NMSU graduate worker earns an annual stipend of just $12,123 —far below the federal poverty line of $13,590 for a single adult with no dependents. Graduate employees, faculty, and research leaders inside and outside of NMSU have long called on the university to commit to full tuition coverage and have identified tuition waivers as a key component in remaining competitive with other research universities. As detailed in the report to be delivered today, current surplus revenues could be used to offset the 1.35% of operating revenue currently funded through graduate workers payments back to their employer.”

The NMSU graduate workers’ union was formally certified by the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board in May. The University and the union are slated to begin negotiations in July. NMSU Graduate Workers United Local 1498 is affiliated with the UE Union, which also represents graduate employees at the University of New Mexico. 

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