EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon students and community members are protesting proposed tuition hikes and budget cuts this week with sit-ins at the administration building.
Members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) are especially concerned about possible reductions in their health care, which they said the administration has proposed.
"If they're going to make poor positions about their budget, why should it be the most vulnerable members of our community that are going to suffer especially because we are the ones really performing the mission of the university," UO graduate employee Leslie Selcer said.
Thursday's sit-in at Johnson Hall brought graduate employees, undergraduate students and other supporters together, all hoping to push the administration to change their plans.
On Friday, in addition to sit-ins, GTFF will also focus on their fourth negotiation with the university. They said they want a new contract and won't agree to any proposal that includes a reduction in their health care.
The GTFF, alongside allies from the Service Employees International Union, will gather outside Johnson Hall at noon on Friday for a “Solidarity Against Austerity” rally.
The 1,400 graduate employees at the University of Oregon teach 17 percent of lectures, 83 percent of labs, and 93 percent of discussion sections, according to GTFF.
In April, Provost Jayanth Banavar said because of a projected $8 million deficit from this current fiscal year and a possible cost increase of $23.5 million next fiscal year, the university had to look at ways to balance their budget and cover roughly $34 million. Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt said those increases come from things like faculty and staff pay raises and increased costs to pay into the Public Employee Retirement System.
"We have to have a degree to be able to do anything in our lives and it's becoming a luxury that's also a necessity and that's not okay," undergraduate student Elizabeth West said.
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