When COVID-19 hit, their team of high schoolers quickly transitioned to online tutoring and later banded together with two other student volunteer organizations — Girls Empowering Girls, founded by Annette Yuan, a junior at Irvine High School, which offers one-on-one English conversation practice with language learners, and Code Champion, a coding class Ding started with his sophomore sister Cindy Ding — to form the nonprofit StudySmart Youth Services. While the teens previously served their local community, now they tutor students from Seattle to Toronto.
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Since July, the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and has over 2,000 graduate workers as members at New York University, has been involved in contract negotiations with the university administration. The previous contract, negotiated by GSOC and the university in 2015, expired on Aug. 31. GSOC has agreed to a second extension of the contract, which includes a no-strike clause, until Oct. 13. GSOC is affiliated with the UAW Local 2110, an amalgamated union that has repeatedly negotiated concessionary contracts for workers throughout New York City.
On August 31, students at Kenyon College, a private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio, announced their intent to unionize with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) in an open letter to the school’s president and board of trustees. Students have requested voluntary recognition through a card-check neutrality agreement with the school’s administration. If successful, the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K‑SWOC) will become the first union to organize its entire undergraduate workforce, which will include all 800 student worker positions available on campus.
A day after the Graduate Employees’ Organization voted to extend its strike, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel is seeking an injunction to get graduate students off the picket lines and back to teaching. Schlissel is asking Washtenaw County Circuit Court to require GEO members to return to work by issuing a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. In a video released Monday afternoon, he described the request as a necessary step. “Following the announcement that GEO will continue to strike and not teach for at least five more days, I made the very difficult decision to seek help from the courts so we can resume all of our remote and in-person classes,” Schlissel said in the video.
It is less than a month before Fall Quarter begins, and despite daily warnings against doing so, Northwestern insists on proceeding with the harmful and dangerous plan of reopening campus. The current fall reopening plan expects students to return to campus while holding most courses remotely. Despite Northwestern’s assurances that they are following best practices, the current return to campus plan will inevitably result in COVID-19 clusters among students, faculty and staff that will lead many to get sick and will only deepen the virus’s spread across the Evanston and Chicago region.