SUGS Spring Campaign

The old joke goes that graduate students are “paid to read.” It’s true, we read. A lot. But reading is not only what we are paid to do: we are paid to teach and mentor undergraduates; to conduct research for faculty; and to conduct our own research in order to write journal articles, papers for presentations at academic conferences, and, finally, a book-length dissertation. The work we do isn’t just meant to advance our own careers in an increasingly brutal academic job market. Our teaching and mentorship helps Brown make good on its promise of delivering a rigorous, engaged, and collaborative undergraduate education. And our academic work burnishes Brown’s reputation as a prestigious research institution. Far from just getting “paid to read,” graduate students perform much of the intellectual labor that goes on at Brown. We represent a crucial motor that keeps this community running.

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Concerning Mark Schlissel

In the past six months, we have seen a rising tide of challenges to higher education’s commitment to money over ideas. Across the country, members of the higher ed community are challenging the priorities of the contemporary market-driven university through antiracist actions, Title IX mobilizations, labor organizing, local crackdowns on university tax evasion, and convocation protests. What principles guide the U.S. university? Who does the U.S. university serve? Can it be reclaimed as an engine for a more deeply and broadly conceived public good?

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SUGS Kicks Off the Ask-A-Grad-Student Booth on Parents Weekend!


Members of SUGS fielded questions, from Grads, Undergrads, Parents, and Faculty during the booth’s inaugural day, Friday October 24th, out on Waterman Street. We had the chance to to talk to members of the community about the challenges grad students face: from time to degree pressures and shrinking funding to the need for dental care. We also got to hear what people had to say, and pass out a fair number of fliers and oreos.

Look for the booth again soon!

Departmental Info. Exchange, 10/2, 7pm

Which department gives TAs the most students? The most hours of work? Which department offers labor alternatives to TAing? What fields and which scholars are a part of your core curriculum? Is your departmental culture inclusive?

We can’t fully know how Brown works—and how we can change it—if we don’t know how the departments work. Come to a SUGS Departmental Info Exchange to share notes, list departmental priorities, and find out how other students are dealing with department issues!

Thursday, October 2
7pm-9pm in the Grad Lounge

All grad students welcome. Hope to see you there!

Welcome Back to Work!

Coursework, exam prep, TA duties, applying for funding, applying for jobs–the semester’s just getting started, but we need a break already! Take some time out to relax at Stand Up for Grad Students (SUGS) “back to work” social on Tuesday, September 23 from 7pm-9pm in the Grad Lounge. 
Do you have questions about your funding package, research support, teaching responsibilities, healthcare, or anything else about working, studying, and living in the Brown community? Come learn about SUGS’s ongoing projects, meet other grad students, ask questions, and share notes over pizza and beer. All grad students welcome!

SUGS Supports Brown’s Mailroom Workers


Current mailroom employees have years of experience of managing difficult logistical challenges unique to the University mailing environment – such as sudden shifts in demand at the beginning of each semester. The mailroom pulls off a minor miracle each year keeping packages organized during peak times. In the short term, bringing in a new contractor right before the start of a new semester could be extremely problematic come September.

The current mailroom staff has worked tirelessly for many years to provide outstanding service to both students and faculty, far above the terms of their employment on many occasions. Once, a disabled student needed several heavy packages to move in on a Sunday. Her mother tried to get help from reslife, but failed. Ultimately, a mailroom employee who lived in walking distance of campus resolved the situation by taking three trips with a hand cart between the mailroom and the student’s dorm. Firing excellent staff in order to save on wages would be a mistake.

In the long-term, while Ricoh may hire existing mailroom employees on a temporary basis to train their workers, the mailroom workers we know and love would be unlikely to be retained in the long term, and their experience would be lost, resulting in a degradation of services for everyone. Right now, whenever we pick up a package, it is usually found in short order. Bringing in Ricoh may save the University on cost, but we will pay the penalty in increased wait times and lost mail.