Voices from the Picket Line

Striking CUPE 3903 Workers, in their own Words

Posts Tagged ‘phd student

Hi, my name is Joshua and I’m a PhD student in FES and a TA in Environmental Writing.

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A few unedited and brief thoughts on my/our situation:

This story of striking coincides with so many other stories — stories with themes of dedication, frustration, confusion, hope, joy, fear, and countless other emotions in no particular order.  At this time in my life I am a student (confusion/frustration/joy!), teaching assistant (dedication/confusion/frustration!), educator (hope/confusion/fear!), and barista (none of the above!), writer (joy/fear/dedication/confusion/etc etc etc etc!) — all in a country I was not born in (hope/frustration!) and…  not that you would notice or that you need to know or even that you could possibly care…  but amidst the first long-term relationship of my life (fear/hope/joy/love/bliss/confusion/frustration/mostly joy and love/sorry/no, its my fault/no, I’m sorry/no, you are…  no, YOU are!).

To say there is a lot going on inside of my head is an understatement.

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Written by Gavan Watson

November 28, 2008 at 10:06 am

I’m May and I’m a TA at York as well as a course director elsewhere; I am also a mom.

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I am in Ph.D. 4 in Women’s Studies, I am a writing instructor (which is a TA position) at the Writing Centre and I teach three social work courses at another university.  I also have a very part time additional job (approximately 50 hours per year) and have two children, aged five and two.  I am very lucky to have a partner who is immensely supportive, both emotionally and financially, which is the only reason I can even think of blending grad school with parenthood.  Even under these circumstances, however, I am forced to work far more than is really reasonable.  I do this because my childcare expenses are approximately $1700 a month– more than my paycheque from York; because my children are, thank goodness, thriving and therefore eat their own weight in food every week and outgrew their clothes faster than I can buy them.  I love teaching and can say, without conceit, that I am an excellent teacher– but I would never, given the choice, pick a life that includes the equivalent of two full time jobs (three courses is considered full time, and I am a full time Ph.D. student with a TA).

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Written by Gavan Watson

November 16, 2008 at 9:28 am

Hi. I’m Gavan. I’m a TA, course director and PhD student at York.

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Let me take a quick moment to introduce myself: my name is Gavan Watson and I am a PhD student in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University. This is my seventh year at York; for my first two I was a master’s student in FES and now I’m in year five of the PhD program. When I’m not on-campus walking the picket line, I’m busy collecting data (interviewing people) for my dissertation. I hope to defend my work sometime mid-2009. If I wasn’t on strike, I would be teaching in my faculty this semester: I am the course director for a first year course exploring the natural history of Toronto, which makes me a member of Unit 1.

I am the one responsible for starting the blog, in part because I’ve been disappointed in the way that our demands have been represented in the mainstream media and the paucity of individual voices from the union to explain why what we’re asking for is so important to us. So, rather than getting caught up rhetoric about 30% wage increases (which, just to clarify was a demand at one point in time, but has been off the table for weeks), I want to explain what it is like to be a graduate student who earned $16 353 in 2007 (I just looked that up on my pay stub).

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Written by Gavan Watson

November 13, 2008 at 3:43 pm