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Graduate Student Unionization: Be Informed and Exercise your Rights

October 17, 2018

Dear Graduate Students,

As the Dean of the Graduate School, I am committed to providing all graduate students an inclusive space to pursue your academic passions, to develop your career paths, and to express yourselves as free thinkers. It is these long-held values of graduate education at Brown, dating back to 1888 when the first graduate degree was awarded here, that are my guiding principles as I consider the potential unionization of graduate students.

As a former graduate student, who was a first-generation college student, a first-generation graduate student, a first-generation American, and a person of color, these values are particularly important to me. During my education, I often questioned my sense of empowerment and belonging. It is only now, in my privileged role as Dean of the Graduate School, that I fully recognize the ways that graduate students can have impact and influence. One of the core aspects of the Brown community that makes me proud to be a member is our shared commitment to empowering all voices, making decisions collectively, and learning together that captures the best of higher education.

A vote by many of you may soon take place that will determine whether all of Brown’s PhD and Master’s students who serve as RAs, TAs or Proctors will join a union, or not. I write to let you know that regardless of the outcome, the Graduate School will continue to ensure that you are provided with the platform and freedom to express your views, to participate in the governance of your education, and to determine the resources dedicated to furthering your scholarly pursuits. You are critical to the future Brown University and to the future of graduate education, as you shape the pursuit of knowledge and learning across the globe. The individual contributions that you make to your respective fields are and will continue to make a profound impact, because you are the next generation of faculty, of leaders, and innovators who will help to address and solve some of society’s most complex problems.

While the values of Brown may not be unique to this campus, I believe the integration of your graduate student voices into the fabric of this campus has and will continue to be one of the most defining aspects of graduate education at Brown. I commend the steps taken to strengthen graduate student support in the years prior to my appointment as Dean, and am proud of the work my team has done to continue expanding graduate student support and resources.

It is with this reaffirmation that I urge you to make an informed decision. Your participation in the election process is vitally important, and it will ensure that your view is heard and your vote counts. My hope is that the outcome of the vote will reflect the choice and opinion of the entire graduate student community.

As always, my office door is open and I am also available through my mobile office hours across campus.

Andrew G. Campbell

Dean of the Graduate School
Professor of Medical Science
Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Brown University