The Graduate Employees and Students Organization, in a highly suspect effort to demonstrate its legitimacy, has organized a vote for today that is both dubious in its planning and deeply troubling in its aims. In holding the so-called election, GESO is attempting to prove it has the support of a majority of graduate students by offering an unfairly established vote that was poorly advertised and holds no legal standing. We urge all graduate students to participate nevertheless — and use it as an opportunity to show how graduate students actually feel.
If taken in the proper context, the results of today’s vote would be duly dismissed. The group has submitted to the League of Women Voters, the organization overseeing the vote, its very own list of those eligible to participate. The single polling location on Old Campus unfairly disadvantages graduate students in the sciences or at the medical school, most of whom are in departments that are traditionally less supportive of GESO than departments on central campus.
But the vote will not be taken in this context. Anticipating an easy victory, GESO leaders likely will declare the vote as the only referendum for graduate students on unionization and claim victory regardless of the percent turnout as long as the vote falls in their favor. They are calling it an election and plan to use the results, if they are positive, to say they are upping the ante for the University to recognize GESO as truly representative. But if graduate students make the inconvenient hike to Dwight Hall from Science Hill and around campus during business hours today, this vote could actually be closer to representative — still not legitimate, but less of a farce.
In light of the GESO leadership’s traditionally divisive tactics and recent efforts to siphon off dissent within the group, it is hardly surprising that today’s vote is little more than an attempt to unfairly claim majority support. Some graduate students who support the idea of unionization but not GESO face have the option, though it has not been widely publicized, of writing in an alternative vote, which expresses support for unionization but not for GESO. Students who have not made the eligibility list, but who still believe they deserve a vote, may file a challenge vote at the poling place. Given these options, graduate students concerned with GESO have no excuse not to express their views in what is a troubling but now unavoidable vote.