- GET-UP has not dedicated a committee to overseeing the concerns of international students, whereas Penn has 16 full time staff and an entire building dedicated to providing assistance
- The AFT has specifically stated that in can not provide legal assistance in wake of the travel ban
- Visa employment concerns, international taxes, and funding are significant issues, however neither are under the control of a union. All of these are determined by federal law, which the union can not bargain over
International students face difficulties that many of us can not imagine. Navigating the complex laws surrounding visas and international relations adds a complexity to graduate school that many of us do not face. However, GET-UP incorrectly claims the following:
Penn does not assist international students
Only unionization through GET-UP can help international students
Issue #1: Penn does not assist international students
Unlike GET-UP, Penn has already proven that it has the resources and ability to fight for international students. While GET-UP will have many competing priorities, Penn has dedicated an entire building to helping international students: The International House. Penn has 16 full time staff solely for helping international students, while GET-UP has not even proposed a permanent committee for international students (see Section B). Our university already provides comprehensive immigration assistance in regards to handling the complex issues surrounding immigration, visas, and travel. Penn even provides free tax software to international students to assist in paying taxes. Legal services are also provided by GAPSA and the Undergraduate Assembly, while the university provides legal assistance for non-personal issues.
Issue #2: Only unionization through GET-UP can help international students
It is curious for GET-UP to claim that Penn does not offer enough legal assistance, especially in the wake of the travel ban, when GET-UP’s parent union (the AFT), specifically states it can not provide legal help (see below).
Visa employment concerns, funding, and international taxes are significant issues, however neither are under the control of a union. International taxes are set by treaties and visas are defined by federal law. Many fellowships and grants are government-funded, which have strict citizenship requirements. The union can not bargain on these issues as they are not under the university’s control. It is important to point out that the NYU union contract is practically devoid of any issues pertaining to international students (full contract here). The lack of international student issues within NYU’s or other union contracts leads us to believe that unionization is not effective for helping international students.