Article 4: Graduate Student Support

4.0 The term “graduate assistant” in this Article refers to graduate assistants who are not covered by the Graduate Employees Union (GEU) collective bargaining contract. Employment policies and the issues that are encompassed by employment and involve students who are included in the collective bargaining unit shall be covered by the GEU contract.

4.1   Classes of Support

4.1.1 Students receiving support through the University primarily constitute three groups:

(a) graduate assistants

(b) University employees

(c) fellowship, scholarship and/or grant recipients

4.2   Graduate Assistants

4.2.1 Graduate assistants are graduate students currently enrolled in degree programs who are appointed through established University procedures and in accordance with University policies governing graduate assistantships. Duties assigned to graduate assistants may include (but are not limited to) classroom instruction, student advising, writing supervision, reading of papers and examinations, and research. The responsibilities delegated to a graduate assistant must be performed under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member or administrator.

4.2.2 With the participation of graduate student representatives, each unit appointing graduate assistants shall develop policies and make available current information covering, but not limited to, the following:

(a) criteria for selecting new graduate assistants

(b) criteria for renewing and/or continuing graduate assistantships

(c) stipends (see 4.2.4)

(d) stipend advancement and promotion

(e) tax status of stipends (according to IRS policy)

(f) procedures for evaluating performance (see also 2.5.2–

(g) length of term of appointment, including continuance and renewal of graduate assistantships

(h) work load, duties, and vacation schedules

(i) grievance procedures

4.2.3 By April 15th of each calendar year, units shall advise each graduate assistant in writing of one (or more) of the following:  (a) the assistantship will be renewed for the following academic year or a portion thereof; (b) the assistantship will be renewed provided the assistant is able to meet certain specified conditions; (c) the assistantship will be renewed provided the unit is able to meet certain specified conditions; (d) the assistantship will not be renewed for the following academic year. If the assistantship is not renewed, the reasons shall be indicated. When citing (b) above, the unit shall include the date by which the student must satisfactorily complete the specified criteria and the date by which the unit will notify the student about its decision to renew the assistantship for the appropriate semester(s). When citing (c) above, the unit shall include the date by which it will notify the student about its decision to renew the assistantship for the appropriate semester(s). Evaluative judgments about students should be communicated in accordance with guidelines in 2.4.8. (See all Sections 2.5.2-

4.2.4 The Office of the Provost shall establish a campus-wide policy for graduate assistant stipends, taking into account (a) the amount of stipend adequate in relation to the current cost of living, (b) the need to be competitive with other universities, and (c) the availability of resources for graduate assistant stipends. (The Office of the Provost shall consult with the Dean of The Graduate School and the University Committee on Graduate Studies on graduate assistant stipend levels.)

4.2.5 Graduate assistants are entitled to all benefits normally accorded to full-time graduate students, except as specified under policies established in accordance with 4.2.7.

4.2.6 All graduate assistants are entitled to such clerical-secretarial help and supplies as are commensurate with their assigned responsibilities and the resources of the unit.

4.2.7 The Office of the Provost, in consultation with the Dean of the Graduate School and the University Committee on Graduate Studies and other appropriate, duly authorized authorities, shall review and publish policies for graduate assistants relating to (a) sick leave, (b) parking privileges, (c) bus privileges, (d) travel off campus, (e) insurance, (f) health care, and (g) tuition waivers.

4.2.8 Within the constraints of their training, experience, and responsibilities, graduate assistants have a right to the same professional respect as that accorded to regular faculty.

4.3   University-Employed Graduate Students

4.3.1 The University’s student employment office shall publish annually minimum and maximum salaries and hourly wages for University-employed graduate students. This office shall have the authority to approve unit requests for all payments above the established maximums.

4.3.2 The University shall not deny a regular employee’s fringe benefits solely because the person also is registered as a student.

4.3.3 University employees who are pursuing graduate study are bound by collective bargaining agreements or other applicable University personnel policies and agreements.

4.3.4 Employment-related grievances of graduate students employed in non-academic positions should be filed with the employing units under their respective procedures.

4.4   Fellowship, Scholarship, and Grant Recipients

4.4.1 A graduate student supported by a fellowship, scholarship and/or grant shall have a right to such information as (a) the responsibilities and performance required for retention of support, (b) the privileges and status associated with support, and (c) grievance procedures.

4.5   University Policies Relating to Graduate Student Support Recipients

4.5.1 Michigan State University is an Affirmative-Action, Equal-Opportunity Employer. Therefore, employment appointment policies shall be consistent with anti-discrimination policies of Michigan State University.

4.5.2 Graduate students shall be informed of all employment policies when a position is tendered.

4.5.3 The University retains the right to demote, suspend, terminate, or otherwise discipline graduate students receiving support through the University for cause and for failure to meet their responsibilities. The University also retains the right to terminate graduate students’ participation in an academic program, which in turn may terminate the graduate student’s assistantship or other financial support. Graduate students who believe they have a grievance under this article may utilize the judicial procedures outlined in Article 5. In cases where the graduate student contends that action of the University may cause irreparable harm, the student may appeal to the appropriate judiciary for an expedited hearing.