Fighting for Graduate Student Rights

By: Malvika Singhal
April 8, 2024
Posted in:
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes
Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation Logo
Our "Postcards" series shares the experiences of engineers and scientists who are taking early steps toward local engagement.
Share this with your network

Tell us about yourself.

I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Biochemistry at the University of Oregon.  My research involves localized and controlled drug delivery for bone regeneration.

What is important to you about engaging with your local government?

I think it is a privilege to be able to pursue expertise in a specific field, and it is necessary to give back to the community that helped foster that interest. Through the accessible STEM Outreach initiatives provided to me in grade school, I was encouraged to pursue my interest in science and scientific inquiry.  Additionally, I feel a sense of responsibility to recognize inequity in the community and help replace it with initiatives that champion equity and communicate accessible resources. The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation on campus upholds these responsibilities for the graduate student community.

A headshot of Malvika Singhal
Malvika Singhal

What did you do?

As a general member, I have been involved with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation graduate student union on campus, which aims to defend the rights of graduate employees and push for safer and equitable working conditions. This past year we had the opportunity to negotiate for a fairer contract that included an increase in graduate stipends to meet the burden of increased interest rates, among other things.

What happened then?

The university and the union agreed on a contract with historic precedent compared to previous deals made with the university, which in the past have not compensated graduate employees to make up for inflation and overall increased cost of living. The new contract would provide salary increases across the board for all grad employees over three years. Additionally, it guarantees continued health insurance support and tuition and fee benefits.

What did you get out of this experience?

It feels good to be part of a community that cares about the experiences of its constituents and works towards improving their quality of life. The ability to observe the power of student voices for creating positive change has motivated me to further get involved in local policy outside the university grounds and pursue ways of engaging with the nexus of science communication and local policy in my community.

Interested in sharing your story? Tell us about a local engagement you participated in here. You can find guidance on how to craft your postcard here.

Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 04/8/24
Updated: 06/26/24


linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram