York’s cut to graduate assistant jobs means that hundreds of students do not have access CUPE 3903’s benefits package, nor the health care plan and support funds that they offer, including their Extended Health Benefits Fund, Trans Fund, Ways and Means Fund, Child Care Fund, Sexual Assault Survivor Support Fund and leaves. This is an attempt by York to lower union membership and cut work benefits for students. Their cut disproportionately impacts graduate students with disabilities, who not only make use of these funds, but could count on funding extensions to accommodate their needs.
The elimination of graduate students’ $300 printing credit means that students will be forced to pay out of pocket to print assignments, scholarship and bursary applications, and thesis work. This cut is a concession and an attack on students’ funding entitlement. YUGSA confronted administration and delivered over 1300 petition signatures in support of restoring the printing credit, but the administration refused to commit to restoring the credit.
There is budgetary evidence that the cuts are a result of the university’s flawed priorities and the austerity measures taken in recent years, not due to a lack of financial resources. We have identified areas in York University’s budget, where money could be reallocated to reverse these cuts: York University had a $36.4 million dollar surplus in 2016 and currently $30.7 million is allocated for York Libraries for 2017-18, with incremental increases planned for the next 3 years which could be used to restore services.
York administration refuses to reverse these cuts, even when students have told them that they need every dollar of funding and work benefits. Reversing these cuts would make a huge difference in their quality of life and impact on wellbeing in serious ways. These cut are a matter of equity and accessibility, two principles that York claims to care about.
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