13 petitions

Update posted 1 month ago

Petition to Patricia J. Gumport

Demand that Stanford Protect Graduate Education

On Thursday, November 2, 2017, the House of Representatives introduced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Act introduces a number of changes that may affect graduate students, including treating tuition as taxable income, and eliminating or reducing deductions for student loans and other tuition scholarships. It also directly affects Stanford and other universities by taxing university endowments.  These changes threaten to make graduate education unaffordable. By counting tuition waivers as income, the new bill will tax the average Stanford graduate student on over $45,000 dollars of extra “income” per year. As a result, we will be taxed at a higher rate – preliminary estimates suggest that taxes can increase anywhere from 200% to 400%, depending on our specific funding packages. Graduate programs at Stanford remit many students’ tuition costs in exchange for wages as teaching assistants (TA) or research assistants (RA), along with a modest stipend. While this stipend reaches us, the tuition fees do not: they are transferred from the University to our respective Departments. In effect, the University transfers this money from one pocket to another. Under the new tax proposal, graduate students stand to be taxed for “income” that never reaches them. This bill can affect graduates students regardless of citizenship status; as long as a student pays taxes to the US government, they will be impacted. This bill will affect anyone with student loans by eliminating student loan interest deductions (currently at $2,500/yr). Moreover, while the Senate version of the bill would not affect graduate student tuition or student loan deductions, it would tax the University’s endowment. We fully expect these provisions to have long-term adverse effects on the University community as a whole. Patricia J. Gumport, the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, notified students in an email on November 8 that the “tax proposal has the highest priority attention from Stanford’s leaders and we are advocating actively against these provisions.” While we appreciate the University's statement, it does not provide any concrete information about how exactly students may be affected by the proposed changes, what Stanford is doing to protect graduate students, or how the University will respond if the proposed changes are passed. As students, teachers, and researchers, graduate students need more information about how their jobs and livelihoods may be affected, as well as an active voice in discussions that may affect our ability to contribute to the University. We therefore call upon the University to: Provide concrete information on (a) how graduate students on various financial packages may be affected by the proposed changes, with specific estimates and figures; and (b) what actions Stanford is taking to ensure that the tuition tax exemption and student loan interest deduction are preserved. We also want to know what specifically Stanford is doing in partnership with the peer universities and higher education associations that Vice Provost Gumport named in her recent email.  Explain how Stanford will protect graduate students’ take-home pay if the tax deduction is eliminated. Specifically, we want Stanford to guarantee that it will adjust either our tuition or our financial packages to offset any changes in our federal taxes.  Hold a Town Hall meeting for graduate students with President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Vice Provost Gumport, and all other relevant personnel to discuss the tax plan and its implications for graduate students, as well as the continued financial viability of graduate education at Stanford. We, the undersigned, ask the University to respond to these demands by December 1, 2017. Congress plans to vote on a tax reform bill as early as Thanksgiving. We hope that the University will collaborate with us on this pressing issue and continue to fulfill its responsibilities to the graduate community. [Note: Please include your department, affiliation, and year of graduation (actual or anticipated) when you sign. For example: Jane Nguyen, PhD, English, 2018.] 

Stanford Solidarity Network
3,233 supporters
Update posted 2 months ago

Petition to Andrew Comrie, Bill Ridenour, Ram Krishna, Jay Heiler, Rick Myers, Ann Weaver Hart, Greg Patterson, Ron Shoopman, Larry Penley, Lyndel Manson, Jared Gorshe, Vianney Careaga, Doug Ducey

Stop Predatory Indoctrination Practices at UA's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

In recent years UA's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) has been tirelessly promoting the extreme political ideas of the well-known Noam Chomsky. Chomsky, an academic who gained worldwide recognition through his work in linguistics in the late 1950s, has later become known for his controversial political activism, defending murderous Communist regimes, vehemently criticizing US foreign policy, defending Jewish Holocaust-denial as a form of "apolitical liberalism", justifying 9/11 and ISIS-related terror on US soil, denying Iran's aggressive and expansionist strategies, and so on. Chomsky has been invited by UA's SBS for extended periods of time, and on three different occasions was invited to take advantage of UA's central stage, its Centennial Hall, in favor of widely-publicized community outreach events (February 8, 2012; March 15, 2015; March 25, 2016) - perhaps more than any other speaker in the history of this venue. SBS Dean John Paul Jones III, a leading figure behind these initiatives, proudly introduced Chomsky to the crowds using emphatically endorsing language (to access recordings of these events, see links below). This coming Spring, Chomsky has been invited to UA's SBS once again and has received an offer to teach politics to young undergrads. This class, POL 150C2 ("What is Politics?" see link below) will serve as "a general education course for UA undergraduates and a Humanities Seminar class for community members." In essence, my concerns with respect to POL 150C2 are its sub-standard education quality, and the predatory indoctrination practices that are reflected through its target student population. Given Chomsky's extreme political viewpoints, it is highly disturbing that he has been invited to teach the youngest, most naive student population, those who are most vulnerable to indoctrination. To make things worse, by any account including his own words Chomsky is a political activist , not a politics scholar with established scientific credentials. Coincidentally, the controversy around him stems, to a large extent, from the fact that the empirical evidence that he has supplied over the years to justify his radical agenda has been discredited by numerous scientists who, unlike him, are known experts in the relevant research fields. In other words, by many relevant judgments, Chomsky's agenda exhibits shaky scientific foundations and, subsequently, has little scientific support. These issues touch on the very nature of the education that a university is expected to uphold, as opposed to lower quality education: while a university is expected to strive for scientifically sound teachings, the scientific soundness of Chomsky's political writings is dubious (a recent issue of Scientific American hints to somewhat parallel, emerging doubts regarding Chomsky's contribution to Linguistics theory; see a link below). If this class takes place then public money will be thrown away on producing politically charged youth who are driven by stupefying notions of reality. Please join me - let us stop it together from taking place.   Links: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Irit Askira Gelman
57 supporters
Update posted 2 months ago

Petition to Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, Michael Bernstein, Dr. Sacha Kopp

To Retain the Adjunct Faculty at Stony Brook University

The Dire Situation at Stony Brook In addition to the budget cuts already enacted at Stony Brook University, the administration is now indiscriminately eliminating adjuncts campus wide. As a result of reduced teaching staff, full-time faculty will be forced to teach courses outside of their disciplines. President Stanley recently stated “we will not do across the board cuts,” a promise that he has now gone back on.  Despite Stanley's support for HeForShe, these cuts would disproportionately impact women, who make up a significant number of the adjuncts.   Why This Matters Such cuts punish our exceptional adjunct faculty–many of whom have been teaching at Stony Brook for years–and many of whom have done extra service beyond their job description (mentorship of students, university service and committee work, etc.). This action directly contradicts the university’s purported claim to “offer all students a world-class education.” TAs and full-time faculty from other departments are being forced to teach classes in unrelated fields. For example, full-time lecturers in history, Asian-American studies, and even pharmacology and geology, will teach writing courses. Similar situations will be put in place across campus. The administration's proposal to bring in lecturers from other departments means that programs and departments will not retain many adjuncts. This is an academically flawed strategy that will cripple the quality of education for students and risk Stony Brook's reputation. Furthermore, these measures are in direct opposition to what President Stanley himself announced to faculty in his summary of this year’s State of Stony Brook University message, where he assured that “we will not do across the board cuts and weaken strong programs.” These cuts will do exactly that, crumbling highly successful programs while preying on the most vulnerable among us, and undermining Stanley's other stated claim of doing better “in the area of faculty diversity.” In addition, Stanley, as a "HeForShe Impact Champion," emphasizes: "The gender equality issues we face on a daily basis could not be more important or timely. We know that Stony Brook University is not free of these issues. It is the willingness to address these questions and improve ourselves in the process that will create that change." Yet a disproportionate number of those who will lose their jobs are women and minorities.   These job cuts are not necessary. Chairs around campus have offered to keep vacant faculty spots open or to suspend searches to help with the budget issues in the College of Arts and Sciences but these, and other offers, have been declined.   What We Can Do We need your help. Our plan is to get enough support and testimonials to demonstrate the very real value that our adjuncts provide–to highlight how the administration’s shortsighted maneuvering will adversely affect faculty, the students we serve, and the larger campus community. In addition to signing to voice your support, we encourage you to please contact the President, Provost, and others to demand that they reverse these cuts: President Stanley’s Office: (631) 632-6265, Office of the Provost, Michael Bernstein: (631) 632-7000, Governor Cuomo’s Office: contact information, phone: 1-518-474-8390 Contact SUNY directly: Contact information Whether you are a student, an alum, a faculty member, or a fellow New Yorker who values some of the most dedicated workers in your state university system, please sign, comment, and spread this message to all friends, family, and colleagues through whatever networks are available to you! [NOTE: We are not asking for money only for your signature and support. Any request for donations is an automated response from] 

Adjunct Professors At Stony Brook University
2,973 supporters
Started 2 months ago

Petition to Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell

Congress: Do Not Tax Grad Students for Income They Do Not Earn

We are scientists, researchers, teachers, and graduate students urging Congress to abandon provisions of H.R. 1 – the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” – that would tax graduate student tuition reimbursements as earned income. Taxing tuition reimbursement could effectively reduce already meager graduate student incomes by half or more. This change would make graduate school unaffordable for all but the most affluent Americans, and could seriously harm the future of the United States’ leadership in science, technology, and research. A research career requires years of training that already comes at a significant cost to a young researcher. Most students pursuing a PhD in the United States can expect to spend four to eight years in graduate school. During these years, students are essentially apprenticed to experienced researchers and teachers. This highly specialized training is prerequisite to conducting foundational scientific research. However, extended training forces students to forgo years of higher pay. For those who stay in basic research after graduation, salaries remain substantially lower than similarly educated peers in business, industry, medicine, law, or finance.  The proposed tax plan could double the cost of graduate education overnight. To make a research career financially tenable, universities typically waive tuition for PhD students and provide a modest stipend for living expenses. These stipends – which compensate graduate students for their research and teaching work – are already counted as taxable income. The proposed tax plan would also count tuition reimbursement – with nominal value of between $30,000 and $60,000 – as taxable income. This plan would tax graduate students for invisible money a university pays to itself. Students with earning $20,000/year could end up paying taxes as if they were earning $80,000/year. Because tuition sticker prices are so high relative to student stipends, many students could see their after-tax income fall by as much as half.  We fear that this change will substantially reduce the number of young Americans who pursue a career in science. We love our work, and are proudly devoted to the pursuit of knowledge for the public good. But the simple economic reality is that most of us would not have been able to complete a PhD if the value of our stipends had been halved. If these changes go into effect, those of us who are current students – many of us already burdened by debt from undergraduate and Master’s programs – will not be able to afford to complete our degrees.  Grad students should not be taxed on income we do not actually earn so the wealthiest and most powerful Americans can pay less. What is the purpose of this hefty new tax on education? Is it to finance other important new investments in research? In defense, infrastructure, education, or health? Will it support other reductions that ultimately make the tax code fairer? Will it help reduce public deficits, or strengthen social insurance programs? All evidence points to the contrary. Instead, the proposed tax plan is for the most part an enormous tax cut for large corporations and extremely wealthy individuals. Our economist colleagues tell us there is little evidence that these cuts, largely financed by $1.5 trillion in new public debt, will produce lasting economic benefit for most Americans.  Taxing tuition waivers is not only unfair – it will hurt our economy. The United States’ economic prosperity – accrued through global leadership in tech, energy, pharmaceuticals, engineering, aerospace, agriculture, finance, marketing, and many other fields – is built on our public investment in education and research. Every day, thousands of unsung researchers quietly compile the knowledge base that will support the innovations of tomorrow and the economic prosperity of the next generation. The modest revenue generated by this new tax cannot justify squandering our homegrown pool of academic talent, and jeopardizing the United States’ status as a global leader in innovation and discovery.  This proposed tax on research poses a serious threat to the American science and scientists. We urge you to abandon it.

Kenny F
1,545 supporters