Interim University of Oregon President Scott Coltrane’s office hours were interrupted on Friday by a group of students sounding off on the proposed contract for graduate teaching fellows.
Members of the ASUO, the Student Labor Action Project and the Multi-Cultural Center assembled in the lobby of Lillis Business Complex at approximately 11:20 a.m., chanting in support of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation in its negotiations with the administration.
The groups formed a semi-circle around Coltrane’s table. SLAP President Gabrielle Cicourel then began a “mic check” — where a leader shouts a message and the group follows suit — declaring agreement with the GTFF’s demands of higher wages and paid leave.
“So Scott Coltrane,” the group chanted. “What are you gonna do about it? Follow your own research.”
The crowd of students quickly dispersed as Coltrane attempted a response. The president later released the following statement regarding the demonstration to The Emerald:
“I welcomed the opportunity to hear from students. That’s exactly why I hold office hours around campus. I invited them to join me to have a discussion about why I believe the university’s offer to the GTFF is family friendly and does support my research on parenting. I encourage anyone with questions about bargaining to visit the provost’s website for information.”
The mic check is the first student-led demonstration in support of the GTFF this year.
“I think that it’s really important for undergraduate students to express how they’re feeling,” Cicourel said. “It’s important to realize that we are filling this niche that is undergrad-based.”
ASUO President Beatriz Gutierrez said that there’s a lot of information circulating, but it’s all from the administration.
“Students are really worried about their grades and they’re looking for someone to blame,” Gutierrez said. “They’re blaming their GTFs and I don’t think that’s right. [The GTFs] are doing what they have to do.”
The GTFF also has also posted an open letter to undergraduates in which the group lines out its demands and why GTFs may strike beginning Dec. 2.
The ASUO plans to continue supporting the GTFF alongside SLAP as Cicourel prepares to host an informational panel with students on Monday at 6 p.m in the Lokey Education Center.
“We’re hopefully going to be picketing with them as much as possible and having flyers so that students can do their own research and look at the things that are going on,” Gutierrez said.
The student demonstration was separate from the GTFF’s picketing. The UO administration and the GTFF will continue mediation on Tuesday. The GTF union has announced its plans to strike starting the Tuesday of Dead Week.
Watch the demonstration here: