Northeastern Disorientation

GENU-UAW: Graduate Employees of Northeastern University

 · 2 mins read

Welcome to Northeastern! As you know, Northeastern is a prestigious college with world-class research, famous professors, and beautiful facilities. It is also a graduate university with MFA, MS, JD, and PhD programs spanning the natural sciences, law, philosophy, history, the arts, and more. The undergraduate experience and the graduate one cohabitate in curious ways. The biggest difference is that graduate students are actually employees of Northeastern. Specifically, we are paid to grade your exams and homework, teach your lab sections and classes, and conduct research. Much of the world-class research and instruction that attracted you to Northeastern in the first place is actually performed by a symphony of graduate student workers!

Like other types of workers at Northeastern, graduate student workers are overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. We find ourselves working long hours and making personal sacrifices in order to follow our passions. These sacrifices include: stipends that do not match our expertise or work hours, lack of childcare, and limited health insurance coverage (we don’t get dental insurance to take care of our teeth!), among others. Every day, we deal with a fundamental power imbalance, because our employers are the very same people who judge our educational progress! Imagine if your boss had the power to decide whether your PhD would take 4 years or 7 years. Imagine also if your boss refused to admit that they were even your boss (and tried to gaslight you into believing otherwise). For these reasons, we are organizing a union, and we need your help!

Adima Gitomer, PhD student worker in network science, writes:

Graduate student workers are in a precarious position - when it is in the university’s favor to treat us as students, we are treated as students; when it is in the university’s favor to treat us as workers, we are treated as workers. In either case, the university depends on our labor. We need to use that for our collective power, and only a union will get us there.

You can learn more about the Graduate Employees of Northeastern University union (GENU) at We are unionizing with the United Auto Workers, who have successfully helped grad students unionize at many other institutions including New York University, the University of California system, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Washington.

How can you help? First and foremost, spread the word about the union. Community support goes a long way. We need Northeastern to know that the overwhelming majority supports the union and everything it represents: a voice at the table! Second, get in touch with us at We are active in the Northeastern community and we strongly believe in mutual aid. We are happy to show up and support undergraduate activism such as Disorientation, and we may ask for your support at our own events in the future!