Press release: Six graduate student associations vote ‘no confidence’ in Whitten Administration

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian:

Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition
[email protected]
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Six graduate student associations (GSAs) have passed votes
“no confidence” in IU President Whitten’s Administration. Graduate student associations
represent graduate students in many departments where they address student
concerns and organize events to elevate the department’s academic culture.
Departments that have passed a “no confidence” resolution include History and
Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Germanic Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology,
History, and the Media School.
Department resolutions cite concerns for academic freedom, the refusal to allow a vote
for unionization for graduate employees, and the mishandling of the Kinsey Institute.
You can view the votes of no confidence by each GSA here.
The Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition (IGWC) voted “no confidence” in Whitten at its
last general assembly on February 5, 2024.
Here are what the representatives from these GSAs are saying:
“We believe that Pamela Whitten’s administration has been structurally damaging to IU.
While we are understandably concerned about her administration’s effect on graduate
education and representation, we are also extremely supportive of faculty authority,
representation, and freedom at IU. The faculty suppression which has resulted from her
administration is unacceptable.” — Matthew Rodriguez, Department of History and
Philosophy of Science and Medicine.
“As a union and as grad students, we’re invested in the health of the university. Not only
has President Whitten neglected to respond to the thousands of graduate students
demanding union recognition, but in the last several months, we’ve seen several
instances of her administration’s failure to practice shared governance. This
administration is unable to engage in critique from students, the community, and faculty.
We aren’t only concerned about her negligence toward graduate students but also other
members of our university community. A vote of no confidence recognizes that these
are not singular events but a pattern of poor administration that must be addressed.” —
Moriah Reichert, Department of Religious Studies.
“We should vote no confidence in Whitten as graduate students for multiple reasons.
Whitten’s actions have been very clear about her intentions for the university moving
forward. The university will not be a space for free speech, not when it comes from
anything from Palestinian genocide to American abortion rights. There will be no right to
fair representation as she refuses to acknowledge the IGWC. Not even tenure offers the
protection it has in the past. This is not an academic space I feel safe to teach or
conduct my research in as a sociologist. We need to be able to protest genocide, we
need to be able to organize, we need to be able to demand better of our university and
maintain job security. We are strongest when our voices are heard together, I encourage
other graduate students to vote no confidence in Whitten. ” — Anjali Biswas,
Department of Sociology
The Bloomington Faculty Council (BFC), the governing body for IU Bloomington faculty,
voted back in April 2022 to endorse a pathway for the administration’s recognition of a
graduate worker union. The final count tallied 1,404 in favor to 509 against. The
administration has yet to act on the BFC’s resolution.
During the strike in 2022, IGWC also received endorsements from the IU Graduate and
Professional Student Government, Bloomington City Council, Monroe County Council,
IU Student Government, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP),
and hundreds of IU alumni.
ABOUT IGWC (—The IGWC was founded in 2019 to advocate
for graduate workers with the primary purpose of eliminating exorbitant fees and
increasing pay. IGWC actions, including a massive four-week strike in the Spring of
2022, successfully brought an end to the fees and forced the IU administration to shift
funds into graduate education, significantly improving the lives of graduate employees in
Bloomington. There are approximately 2,400 SAA graduate employees on the
Bloomington campus. Graduate workers are employed as Associate Instructors,
Research Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Adjuncts. Others are employed on an
hourly basis. They teach hundreds of courses as primary instructors, conduct research
in labs, and perform as artists and musicians.
For further questions and correspondence, contact Indiana Graduate Workers
Coalition media correspondent David Garner ([email protected]).
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