Arrests, Anger, Anxiety as Grad Students Visit Paul Ryan's Office

"As the competing Republican tax plans from the House of Representatives and the Senate head to a conference committee that will square the differences and create a final piece of legislation, graduate students are worried," Inside Higher Ed reports. 

"A group of 40 or so activists and graduate students, organized in part by Faculty Forward and the Service Employees International Union, took their concerns to Capitol Hill Tuesday in a protest outside the office of Representative Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House. Upon coming to the office’s locked door, the protesters held their demonstration in the hallway.

It was a short-lived affair, with police quickly arresting nine people who declined to move after being given a warning. However, the protest captured the anxiety some graduate students expressed regarding the tax legislation, especially provisions stemming from the House bill.

'If it’s filled with any, or most of, the provisions aimed at higher ed, then I’ll have to drop out of my program,' said Tom DePaola, a doctoral candidate in education policy at the University of Southern California and one of the nine protesters arrested.

Graduate students who took to the Hill, many of them organizers at their respective graduate student unions, took issue with a broad range of measures presented in the tax overhaul, for reasons related to higher education and not. But, some said, if the tax legislation was going to pass, they hoped that some of the provisions in the House bill would be stripped in conference.

'I was really brought out here when I saw that they were going to tax our tuition waivers as income,' said Skyler Reidy, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at USC. 'It’s going to force people out of grad school; it’s going to force the most vulnerable students out. But it’s part of a bigger attack on the middle class.'"

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Publication Date: 12/7/2017

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