(DailyDig.com) – The Graduate Student Food Assistance Enrollment Event was just held at Harvard University. Harvard compensates its graduate students $40,000 a year since they play such an important role at the institution through academic research, instructing classes, and mentoring. Harvard has a $53 billion endowment. Living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the standard of living is 73% more than the national average cost, that salary is frequently not enough to pay for food, housing, and other bills.
It seems that Harvard’s enormous endowment, more than many countries’ GDPs, is not enough to cover the cost of feeding their university-employed graduate students. They are being encouraged by the school to sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. SNAP is also known as food stamps.
A flyer promoting enrollment in SNAP was recently sent to Harvard’s graduate students by the university’s Health Services division. The poster encourages employees who need it to fill their pantries and nourish their bodies by asking for U.S. taxpayer-funded financial aid to cover the cost of goods. Approximately one-third of Harvard’s graduate students are not sufficiently supported by SNAP since they are overseas students and hence unable to apply.
The Harvard Graduate Students’ Union (HGSU) has made its position known, calling for more funding and other concrete actions to aid graduate students. A huge increase from the existing minimum compensation of $40,000, their plan would see all graduate student employees receive a minimum yearly income of $60,000. The union maintains that government support services like SNAP would be unnecessary if students were paid enough by Harvard.
The union has gone on strike two times in the last several years, citing inadequate pay as a major factor. In 2020, a deal was reached promising a 2.8% boost in salary for graduate students. Critics say that a private institution with billions of dollars should be able to afford to pay its student employees more, rather than expecting the rest of the U.S. taxpayers to finance its avarice.
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