Grad student-workers at the University of Michigan are courageously on strike. And it is an Abolitionist strike. Due to the work of many comrades within GEO (which far exceeds this past summer and the last bargaining cycle) grad students at the University of Michigan now on strike are demanding both vital protections for all workers at the university as well as pushing for a series of Abolitionist anti-policing demands. In 2018, GEO was one of a handful of unions to support the Prison Strike. GEO members joined Abolitionists in Lansing for an action that interrupted the daily operations of the Michigan Department of Corrections headquarters for a few hours. But still, who would of thought that graduate student union members would overwhelmingly have the courage to demand that the the University’s police budget be cut 50%? Or that the University cut ties with the Ann Arbor Police department? The same police department that murdered Aura Rosser in 2014. The same department that promoted her murderer, Officer David Ried, to Sergeant. And the same police department whose police chief at the time, John Seto, was hired by the University of Michigan months after Aura was murdered. Yes, the ex-AAPD police chief that presided over and justified Aura’s murder now presides over the enforcement of the university’s Covid-19 guidelines in student dorms. The University should fire John Seto. And the University should dismantle a police department whose sole purpose in its 1990’s charter was to deputize officers to contain and repress student dissent.
GEO’S Demands for a Safe and Just Pandemic Response for All
- For the whole community, sufficient, transparent, robust plans for testing, contact tracing, and campus safety.
- For graduate employees, a universal right to work remotely without documentation, resources for remote work, better representation in the decision-making processes of the university surrounding health measures, and access to the health models motivating current policy.
- For parents and caregivers, care subsidy regardless of a care provider’s license status and location and the age of those who need care; allow for healthcare plans to be maintained and available even during leaves of absence taken by anyone, at no extra cost
- For international students, better International Center support and the repeal of the $500 international student fee and document shipping fee.
- For graduate students, unconditional support in the form of extensions to degree timelines and funding, a $2,500 unconditional emergency grant, rent freezes and flexible leases for on-campus housing.
- Access to a disarmed and demilitarized workplace, where lethal weapons are prohibited, our security services do not receive military funding, there is transparency around the use of surveillance technology, there is a standard of force for campus police, and no one faces retaliation for being unable to work due to police presence.
- The defunding of the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS), involving a cut of 50% of their annual budget and a reallocation of the funds to community-based justice initiatives.
- Finally, we demand U-M cut all ties with police, including Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).