October 26th, 2018
What Are We Up To?:
Last Tuesday, GW Graduate Students United (GW-GSU) held its first general body meeting in the Teamsters Research Room at Gelman Library. We primarily discussed the state of graduate student healthcare and how to build momentum off of the petition circulated in September. To date, almost ninety graduate student workers have signed on—clearly demonstrating the need for changes to our current policy. GW-GSU renews and continues its fight for accessible, flexible, and affordable healthcare for all university employees, including graduate teaching assistants, graders, researchers, and tutors.
We have identified several issues below that we believe GW has an obligation to address immediately. We will continue to pressure the University until it makes a firm
commitment to strike these wholly unnecessary exclusions from its student health policy. We believe in a healthy and humane GW.
- Remove the “Self Harm” clause from our healthcare policy:
- Our current health insurance policy claims that it will not cover “Any services or supplies given by providers as a result of suicide, attempted suicide, or intentionally self inflicted injury.”
- GW-GSU believes that it is an unnecessary and harmful policy that stigmatizes mental health and risks putting additional burdens on already vulnerable individuals.
- Neither George Mason University nor Catholic University, both of which also provide insurance through Aetna, include this cruel clause in its policy.
- Include comprehensive transgender & gender non-conforming healthcare rights:
- While our current policy does cover “Surgical, hormone replacement therapy, and counseling treatment” related to “gender reassignment,” it also claims that it will not pay for any “cosmetic” treatment.
- Some of these procedures deemed “cosmetic” include gender-affirming procedures like top surgery, hair removal, and voice modification.
- We agree with groups like the Transgender Law Center that it is up to the individual and their physician, not Aetna, to determine what is medically necessary.
- Any pre-set exclusion of “cosmetic” procedures is an unacceptable method of providing adequate healthcare. GW should make assisting its trans students and employees a priority, especially in light of recent attacks by the Trump administration.
How Can You Help?:
If you have not already signed our petition for affordable healthcare, please do so here. It is important to have as many signers as possible! If you know non-grad workers who would like to sign in support, please direct them to this link.
We are also still collecting individual stories from grad workers about healthcare at GW. We have already heard from students struggling with thousands of dollars of debt, expensive and necessary procedures that Aetna did not cover, and those who simply could not afford to have health insurance at all. If you would like to share your story, please fill out this Google form.
Recent News of Interest:
Georgetown grad workers have an election! Beginning on November 5th, Georgetown graduate employees will vote on whether or not to form a union with collective bargaining rights on campus. After roughly two years of organizing, Georgetown’s administration agreed to have a neutral third party administer the election, a demand the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE) made after Trump’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board threatened to overturn the 2016 legal protections that allow grads at private universities to organize.
Last year, Provost Maltzman denied GSU-GW’s request for a third-party election. Georgetown’s decision to respect a democratic process provides hope that GW will also, one day, see reason. We wish members of GAGE the best of luck in their election. We further hope that a positive outcome will pave the way for a fair contract that improves the lives of Georgetown’s graduate employees. You can find updates on the election by following GAGE on Twitter: @WeAreGAGE.
About two weeks ago, grad workers at Tufts University signed their first contract, winning a 12-19% raise over four years and 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Read more about it here.
Food for Thought:
Ever wonder what a graduate worker contract looks like? Read NYU’s here!
Follow us on Twitter @gwgradworkers
And on Facebook GW Grad Students United