CALL TO ACTION: GSOC Update & Response to New FAR-4 Interim Report

At noon on Monday, April 20, GSOC/UAW Local 2110 held a one-hour silent work-in in Bobst Library.  While quietly studying and working in the lobby of Bobst, approximately 80-90 GSOC members wore signs questioning the details of the FAR-4 proposal.  At 1pm, the union marched across Washington Square Park and delivered letters to Deans Richard Foley and Catherine Stimpson.  The letters called for greater transparency in the creation and implementation of FAR-4 and demanded that the NYU Administration negotiate with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 on the terms and conditions of graduate employment at NYU.  For more information (positive press!) about the work-in, please click here.

On Thursday, April 23, the NYU Arts and Science Deans released an Interim Report on FAR-4 to all GSAS department Chairs and Directors.  While the Report, attached below, announces that the Arts and Sciences Deans cannot make a positive “recommendation to the University Administration in favor of FAR-4 at this time,” the Report explicitly retains Fall 2009 as FAR-4’s date of implementation.

This means that the NYU administration will likely adopt FAR-4 over the summer when fewer people will be on campus to voice any opposition.

Please continue reading for more information about the Interim Report and what you can do to make sure the NYU administration hears your concerns.  To get more involved and participate in future GSOC/UAW events, please contact


What the FAR-4 Interim Report Means for NYU

In keeping with the NYU administration’s top-down approach, the Interim Report was neither fully disclosed nor distributed to faculty, graduate employees,undergraduate or other affected members of the NYU community.  At this time, the NYU administration has still yet to contact or consult with either GSOC/UAW (the union for graduate employees at NYU) or UAW 7902 (the union for adjuncts at NYU). 

FAR-4 remains, in the Dean’s eyes, “a tremendous improvement for students,” even as they’ve failed to provide detailed, workable solutions to the issues we and others have raised.  These include post-5th year international students’ ability to retain F-1 visa status; the legal and practical ambiguities surrounding  the NYU administration’s assertion that GSOC/UAW-Local 2110 would become a part of UAW/Local 7902; concerns about the admittance of unfunded PhDs and 6th and 7th year funding beyond 2009-2010; graduate employee exploitation in a deregulated environment of “departmental customization”  — not to mention the effect restructuring will have on the quality of undergraduate education.

While it is likely that our and others in the NYU communities’ efforts to combat FAR-4 have necessitated FAR-4’s temporary abeyance, it remains probable that the administration will finalize FAR-4 over the summer when the most affected parties will not be present to raise their concerns.  This makes immediate organizing and action all the more necessary.


WHAT YOU CAN DO: Meet with Dean Stimpson on Monday, April 27 at 11am!

Please plan to attend a FAR-4 information session and Q&A with GSAS Dean Catherine Stimpson this Monday, April 27, at 11:00 am in the Draper conference room at 14 University Place.

On Friday, April 17, Dean Stimpson held an initial Q&A for graduate students in certain departments.  Grads had previously presented her with an open letter detailing their questions and concerns with FAR-4.  In the meeting on Friday, people asked many specific and detailed questions, but did not receive any concrete answers.  The following open letter insists that the issues raised — but not adequately addressed — in that initial meeting and in the first Open Letter be taken seriously by the NYU administration.  Please sign the Open Letter II!  To sign, please reply with you name and department to

Monday’s meeting with Stimpson is our chance to see how the NYU administration plans to address (or not address) the concerns outlined in the letter.  Tell Stimpson your concerns with FAR-4 and find out if the administration will take on the real issues this time around.  And spread the word!  Everyone affected by the FAR-4 proposal — from faculty to grads to undergrads — should have a chance to talk face to face with the administration.


WHAT YOU CAN DO: SIGN the Open Letter II to Dean Stimpson 

(to sign, please reply with your name and department to


Dear Dean Stimpson,

Following the meeting between yourself and a large group of graduate students on Friday, April 17, numerous questions remain about how FAR 4 will be implemented and what its effects on the GSAS community will be.

We, the undersigned, cannot at present support FAR 4.

The reason why we cannot support FAR 4 is because the following questions raise possibilities for the future of GSAS that we find troubling.  We would need these questions to be answered in a concrete fashion before our concerns can be assuaged.

1.    We have received no indications, in concrete terms, of how FAR 4 would be implemented.  Before FAR 4 is passed, could we expect to receive notifications in writing of the specific steps that would be taken to put this program in place?
2.    Will there be a minimum or maximum number of graduate students that departments will be able to admit without funding under FAR 4?  Can you provide an estimate of the number of unsupported students who will be admitted to GSAS under FAR 4?
3.    According to the GSAS website, international students make up almost half of the population of GSAS (40-45%). The OISS does not currently employ an international student advisor assigned to GSAS. In concrete terms, what types of support will GSAS offer to the OISS and to departments in order to adequately fund and maintain the legal status of international students under FAR 4?
4.    How will the decision be made as to whether or not FAR 4 is implemented?  Is there a single individual or group of individuals that is responsible for the decision, and, if so, who are they?  What are the criteria that they will use in order to reach this decision?
5.    It is not clear why it is necessary that the decision about FAR 4 be made immediately.  Since numerous important aspects of the program appear to require further development at the moment, would it not be advantageous to wait at least one year before the implementation of the program?
6.    Dean Stimpson, at the 4/17 meeting, you referred to a “transition period” during which the “customary norms” of individual departments would be respected.  How would you define a “customary norm” and what would you provide as an example of one?  How long would this transition period last?  Will it accommodate students currently entering their 6th and 7th years exclusively, or would it also address the needs of students entering their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th years, all of whom will be affected by FAR 4 in distinct but serious ways?
7.    How many “contact hours” would be required for international students to maintain their visas, and how will GSAS make sure that international students receive those hours and sufficient income with which to legally support themselves while completing their degrees at NYU?
8.    How would “contact hour” be defined in this context?  Would it have different connotations for students in the natural sciences than for students in the humanities and social sciences?
9.    We are concerned that FAR 4 would require graduate students in their 6th and 7th years to teach such large courseloads that they will not have time to finish their dissertations.  What will GSAS do to make sure that these students have sufficient time to complete their work?
10.    If the administration of NYU no longer considers teaching to be a part of graduate students’ professional training, will NYU discuss FAR 4 with GSOC/UAW, the union of teaching and research assistants at NYU?
11.    Under FAR 4, will graduate students be represented by ACT-UAW Local 7902, the union of part-time faculty at NYU and the New School?
12.    If teaching is considered a tangential aspect of graduate education under FAR 4, won’t FAR 4 adversely impact the quality of undergraduate education at NYU?
13.    How will GSAS work with departments to make sure that graduate students are not rejected for teaching positions in favor of adjuncts with better qualifications?