Dear IU Bloomington Faculty, Staff, and Student Academic Appointees,
Following July recommendations from the Task Force on Graduate Education, we announced an increase in Student Academic Appointee stipends that will now place our minimum stipends in the top half of the Big Ten, our commitment to ensuring that this status will be maintained, and coverage of mandatory fees.
This week the Task Force released a new set of initial recommendations. We write today to announce our next round of improvements based on these recommendations.
These include initiatives to:
- Waive the international student fee and G901 fee for SAAs
- Improve graduate student health and wellness offerings
- Strengthen and improve transparency in the grievance process
- Establish a new graduate student advisory committee to foster communication with campus leadership
- Support the Bloomington Faculty Council’s efforts to re-establish its Student Academic Appointee Affairs Committee, among other long-term actions
Waiving International Student Fees
First, in addition to the previously announced increase in the minimum SAA stipend, the guarantee of regular stipend increases based on benchmarking of SAA stipends at peer institutions, and the coverage of existing graduate student mandatory fees, IU Bloomington will now waive the international student fee and the G901 fees for all SAAs – effective with the current academic year.
Health and Wellness Improvements
Second, the university will launch a series of initiatives to expand our support of graduate student medical care to meet the health and wellness needs of our graduate students and SAAs.
- Short-term sick leave for SAAs – We will formalize policy and existing practices to ensure SAAs are able to access sick leave in a way that protects the SAA’s position and clearly defines responsibilities for meeting ongoing work obligations.
- SAA health insurance coverage during approved leaves of absence – We will ensure that SAA insurance covers physical and mental care while SAAs are on approved leave.
- Centralized website for health-related resources – We will create a new central web hub to unite well-being and health resources for graduate students.
- Dedicated space for graduate student engagement and well-being – This fall we will identify a space which will be open to all graduate students to foster community and enhance ease of access to vital campus-wide resources and information.
Grievance Processes and Representation in Shared Governance
Third, following the Task Force recommendations and in response to specific concerns from SAAs, we are taking action to provide clearer lines of redress and communication for identified student issues. We are charging Interim Graduate School Dean David Daleke with creating an accessible, comprehensive guide to grievance pathways for graduate students, at both the school and campus levels. This guide will address academic grievances, such as guidelines for student dismissal, productivity, and ethical issues, as well as SAA-specific grievances, and will be available on a central website.
Expanded Access to Campus Leadership
Fourth, the university will create a Graduate Student Advisory Committee to continue to strengthen opportunities for shared dialogue and further foster improvements in the graduate student experience.
We will charge the Graduate School this fall with launching this new advisory committee of graduate student leaders to meet regularly with the Dean and Provost. This new committee will provide a venue to raise issues and discuss solutions that improve the graduate student academic experience and address graduate student needs, health, and well-being.
Additionally, we fully support the Bloomington Faculty Council in its ongoing efforts to re-establish the Student Academic Appointee Affairs Committee. We view this BFC faculty committee as a central means for ensuring proper oversight of regular benchmarking of SAA stipends, enacting further improvements to SAA grievance protocols, and providing an ongoing voice for concerns of SAAs – including with the President and Provost. Additionally, we encourage the Faculty Council to consider the Task Force’s recommendations regarding the establishment of a Grad Prep Week.
We are also pleased that the College of Arts and Sciences has launched its own SAA Committee as well, which is already making great progress in identifying and addressing issues within the College.
Taken together, the new graduate student advisory committee, SAA Affairs Committee of BFC, and the SAA Committee within the College will provide crucial new forums for graduate student dialogue and representation within the executive academic leadership structures at IUB.
Additional Long-Term Actions
Finally, we look forward to receiving and acting on additional recommendations from the continuing work of the Task Force, including its working groups on:
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Academics and curriculum
- Career and professional development
In concert with the BFC, the Board of Trustees, and our graduate students and SAAs, we stand committed to long-term and lasting actions to address identified concerns. In addition, we seek to create the best possible graduate student experience at IU – reinforcing IU’s position as one of the nation’s leading public research universities.
The progress achieved thus far is a testament to strong engagement across our campus community. We extend our appreciation to the faculty, staff and students participating in the Task Force on Graduate Education and look forward to the continued work of the Task Force throughout the remainder of the academic year.
Indiana University Bloomington