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How the World’s Richest Institution of Higher Education Treats Its Workers


The hedge fund that runs a large institution of higher education treats its workers terrible. The graduate students recently went on a short strike. Harvard is now trying to force its students to self-report whether they went on the strike so that it can take back whatever graduate stipends it owes them. Usually with a strike like this, the employer will just pay the money. It makes for better labor relations. And let’s say you are a TA. If you didn’t grade papers for three days because of the strike, it’s not like you aren’t going to grade those papers. You are just going to have to work harder later to grade the papers. It’s the same with most of the things graduate students do. If you are in a lab, the project still has to get done. Etc. So Harvard, an institution with an endowment of $53.2 billion as of the last reporting, responded in the perfect way to get politicians involved.

I don’t really know what Pressley can do here. Some people on Twitter are saying Harvard’s actions are in fact illegal because they are living stipends and not salaries, but that seems to turn the administration’s views on graduate student unionization on their head. So I don’t know all the legal bits here. But I do know that if Harvard wanted to act in the worst possible way here, which of course it does because it is Harvard, this is the way to do it.

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