To the Editor,
PGSU is not a valid representative of Princeton graduate students.
Princeton Graduate Students United has spent over a year organizing and raising awareness of its mission among the Princeton graduate students. At this point, we have all had the opportunity to read about its positions and speak with its representatives. Although pro-union organizations have brought the question of unionization to a vote at our peer institutions, PGSU has refrained from engaging in a democratic process to assess actual graduate student support for it as a representative body.
Three weeks ago, PGSU launched a petition calling on the university to commit to maintaining graduate student take-home pay in light of the pending GOP-led tax legislation. This would seem to be the most low-hanging-fruit issue imaginable; I have yet to encounter a single graduate student who would prefer to earn at least $9,000 less each year. Nonetheless, not even half of the 2,781 graduate students here were willing to attach their names to PGSU's non-binding petition. PGSU could barely muster 1,000 graduate-student signatures on its least controversial issue. Presumably due to the low support that it has found among its core constituency, PGSU likewise opened this petition to community members, graduate students at other institutions, and unaffiliated “allies.” This is hardly the tactic of a valid representative.
PGSU has penned articles, launched petitions, and advanced political causes in the name of the Princeton graduate student community. If its members truly believe that they represent our interests, they should hold a plebiscite to see if the graduate students feel the same. Until then, I will not consider them to be a legitimate representative of graduate-student interests, and neither should the university.
Joshua Picard is a graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.