Metro-East News

SIUC students walk out, say tax plan ‘destroys’ higher education

Graduate students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale joined hundreds of others from across the country in a walkout Wednesday to protest a tax plan by House Republicans.

“This destroys the idea of a graduate employee income that could potentially support graduate students through their education, and it destroys the idea that working people can go and get a graduate-level education and can participate in innovative and scientific communities,” one of the SUIC organizers Sam Smucker told the Southern Illinoisan.

The bill would classify graduate students’ tuition waivers as taxable income. Graduate students often get tuition waivers and a stipend for their work teaching and as research assistants.

Nearly 145,000 graduate students received tax exemption waivers in 2011 and 2012, according to the American Council on Education.

“The graduate tuition waiver is not income. This is not a salary. I don’t see that money. ... Nobody else, anywhere, pays $25,000 just to park at their job,” said Andy Harper, a doctoral student.

More importantly, Harper told the Southern Illinoisan, graduate students teach classes that professors are unwilling to teach.

“Our prolific, highly published, kickass, academically influential faculty are not going to hang around to teach 101 or 102, nor should they, because the world progresses and our nation progresses when they are doing the work in their fields, not covering basic composition,” Harper said.