Queereka Cross-Post: Collectivism at Duke

The following post was written by Vince at Queereka. Read it there or catch the beginning below:

195llqivz1ygqjpgThe Student Union of Michigan recently published an interview with a group of Duke graduate students that contained the unthinkable in a capitalist system, collectivization of wages. The Duke Collective, as they are known, was dissatisfied with the way that the university handled stipends and so decided to take matters into their own hands:

And so it initially began as a kind of emergency fund, where we didn’t put our entire wage in but only some of our stipend for collective use, mostly as a substitution for a lack of summer funding opportunities to friends who were on international visas, and therefore weren’t allowed to work, at least not legally.

Graduate students, as it should surprise nobody, are paid little and sporadically for the labor they provide to a university. Funding is contingent on fickle fellowships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships (which are often linked to the grants that a lead researcher pulls into a given university lab). All of these things are doled out competitively which puts graduate students in the awkward position of competition with their colleagues for access to the money that makes being a student possible. Furthermore, full-time graduate students are prohibited or strongly discouraged from pursuing outside jobs. As you can imagine the combination of these factors makes the life of a graduate student fraught with financial woes. The Duke Collective’s  solution to this problem was to cut the university out of the process entirely.

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Dan has a PhD in historical musicology and has taught music history and theory at a major Canadian university. He mainly studies music from the Italian Renaissance when he's not busy performing stand-up comedy or playing JRPGs with his cat, Roy. He occasionally tweets as @incontrariomotu and blogs about geeky stuff at The Otaku Skeptic. He is also the glorious editor-in-chief of School of Doubt.