Why I Joined GTAC

Casey Keel
Ph.D. Candidate, English

In my time at the University of Kansas, the University of Kansas has undergone 2 massive budget cuts. In spring 2016, the university had to reduce its budget by $7 million to adjust for then Gov. Sam Brownback’s $30+ million cut to Kansas’s institutions of higher education and in spring 2018, the university—due to faulty budget calculations—had to cut $20 million from the budget. In my time at the University of Kansas, I have had the constitutional concealed carry policy allow firearms into my classroom. In my time at the University of Kansas, I have taught 500 students and mentored dozens of undergraduate students. And in my time at the University of Kansas, I have never been paid a livable wage.

While working at least 2 jobs and being a full-time doctoral student, I can’t claim that the last 5 years have been easy. Furthermore, I’m tired of feeling financially and mentally frustrated and being told that I’m lucky to be where I am because there are other applicants out there that didn’t get my position.

It’s time to face the fact that graduate instructors make up a low-wage labor pool that are taken advantage of by the state and by the system of higher education. It’s time to work together to change the system. I joined GTAC to build a collective with other graduate laborers who are tired of being taken advantage of, pacified, overworked, and underpaid. I want to urge all graduate teaching instructors to help further build our coalition to better ensure our rights and respect within the institution by joining GTAC in support.

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