GWOC, AAUP rally for better wages, an end to fees


Collegian | Devin Cornelius

Anders Fremstad, secretary for the Colorado State University American Association of University Professors, speaks to the labor rally crowd in The Oval. “We have people teaching four courses every semester, eight courses a year, making $50,000 a year — … $15,000 less than they make on average at other institutions,” Fremstad said during his speech.

Westyn Hubbard

Katrina Leibee, Editor in Chief

The Graduate Workers Organizing Cooperative and the American Association of University Professors gathered outside the Colorado State University Administration Building May 3 to rally for better wages.

The rally started at the Administration Building and ended outside the CSU Board of Governors meeting in the Lory Student Center. The rally saw an outcry from CSU staff demanding better wages and the elimination of student fees for graduate student workers.


“The Graduate Workers Organizing Cooperative is organizing as a union, and we’re hoping that as a union we can speak with one voice and convince the administration that we deserve an end to fees immediately and a raise in our minimum stipend,” said Quinn Miller, a graduate student worker. 

A sign that has clasped hands with the words: agitate! organize!
Graduate students, teachers, professors and others gather on The Oval to protest for better wages May 3. (Collegian | Devin Cornelius)

The 2021-22 stipend for graduate workers is $1,740 per month, which includes a 3% increase from the previous year. For the 2021-22 school year, graduate students taking six or more credits also pay about $900 just in general fees.

We started organizing especially around how little money we make and how much we have to actually give back to the University in the form of fees, which end up making us literally paying to be able to work,” said Débora Nunes, the secretary of GWOC. 

A large issue for these workers is CSU’s comparison to other universities.

It just happened at (the University of Colorado) Boulder, so their graduate workers don’t have to pay fees out of pocket anymore,” Nunes said. 

Multiple staff members also talked about how they earn around $50,000 each year, which they said is $15,000 less than those at other institutions make on average. 

“If Rams take care of Rams, then we must be goats.” –John Kitchens, honors instructor

Faculty also expressed frustrations with the disparities in pay between graduate workers and nontenure-track faculty versus those at the top, such as President Joyce McConnell and the former and current football coaches, despite their large contribution to the University.

“We’re here in AAUP on behalf of our nontenure-track colleagues, who are paid crap wages to teach most of the courses here on campus,” said Anders Fremstad, the secretary of the AAUP at CSU.

A person in a crowd hold us a sign that says: Stolen Land + Exploited Workers = CSU.
Protesters listen to a speaker during the Labor Rally on The Oval May 3, 2022. During the event, speakers discussed student fees, a living wage, inflation adjustment and their general disappointment with Colorado State University and how the University handles paying the majority of its workers. (Collegian | Devin Cornelius)

They showed anger over the 3% increase in faculty and graduate worker pay, which was actually a 6% pay cut because of the inflation rate.


A 3% raise in the face of 9% inflation is a 6% loss,” said John Kitchens, an honors program instructor. “When (the CSU administration) give these 3% merit raises that they refuse to call cost of living increases, assuming that they also receive those, it amounts to tens and tens of thousands of dollars for them. For us, we get a whopping $1,500.”

Nontenure-track faculty members and graduate student workers make up a large portion of the instructors at CSU, and these staff expressed frustrations that more money goes toward football coaches, often with losing seasons, than the staff who actually provide the education that the University is built upon.

Some of us would actually like to see a successful football team but not at the expense of the primary function and mission of this University, which is education,” Kitchens said. 

Kitchens also said, “If Rams take care of Rams, then we must be goats,” to which the crowd continued to chant throughout the rally.

Signs held up at the rally stated, “You rely on us, pay us a respective salary,” “CSU pays us shit,” “Abolish grad student fees” and “Joyce McConnell works for the clampdown.”

Graduate workers currently have a petition going that calls for “livable wages and an end to prohibitive fees,” which is at over 1,050 signatures.

“For domestic graduate workers, it ends up (that) in their first year, they’re overwhelmed with classes, they’re overwhelmed with adapting to a new job and they have to take a second job to be able to do their work at university, so it’s just very ironic, and the situation of having to pay to work is just, for us, absurd,” Nunes said. 

Reach Katrina Leibee at or on Twitter @katrinaleibee.