SLA graduate program increases stipends for incoming students, not current ones

Hannah Mayer, News Editor

The School of Liberal Arts recently raised stipends for incoming Ph.D. students. According to Brian T. Edwards, dean SLA, the new stipends will span over 12 months at $2,500 per month. The current stipends are based on a nine-month rate, while the new ones are based on a 10-month rate.

The SLA administration decided to provide these new stipends only to incoming students and not to students who are currently in the program.

Our decision to increase the current stipends from 9- to 10-month stipends (with a corresponding increase in total annual amount) was to reflect the need for PhD students to do additional work (research, writing, reading for exams) over the summer,” Edwards said. “In order to be able to include this additional month into our recruiting of new, incoming students, we had to make substantial budgetary commitments over the coming years.”

The decision to only offer these subsidies to incoming students, and not current ones, has angered many current students. Solidarity Tulane, a group of graduate students who work to improve conditions for graduate workers, spoke out.

“Dean Brian Edwards and other high-level administrators decided to increase stipends for incoming graduate workers without any consultation with current graduate workers or the official student bodies that are elected to represent us,” Solidarity Tulane said.

While they are glad about the “overdue” increase in stipends, they are deeply concerned about the lack of graduate worker voice in decisions that directly affect them.

“For over 3 years, Solidarity Tulane has been petitioning the Deans and the Provost to fully fund health care for graduate workers,” they said. “Time after time we were told that the funding simply didn’t exist … We demand that the SLA offer the same stipend increase to all current graduate students regardless of their year admission.”

However, there are other new budgetary commitments that will benefit current and continuing students. SLA has added 66 new awards for the Summer Research and Summer Write-Up Awards and they have added Dissertation Completion Fellowships which can provide up to $25,000 in awards.

Edwards believes that the entire array of increased support for Ph.D. students will have a positive impact for students in all levels of the SLA graduate programs.