Earlier this week the KU Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition (GTAC) staged something of a “walk out” on campus to protest the impending congressional tax plan. Coalition members, reported Darby VanHoutan in the Daily Kansan, were “adamantly against” the plan.
As to why they were against the plan, the grad students were not entirely on the same page. For most, one suspects, it was because the Republicans proposed it, and thus it had to be wicked and immoral. The savvier grad students, however, opposed the plan because it means they will have to pay higher taxes.
The mixed messaging was obvious in the signs the students held. While one young woman held a sign saying, “Defend Not Defund Higher Education,” the woman next to her held a sign saying, “Grad students are already broke! No grad tax.” Although she would be the last one to concede the point, this second woman and her like-minded grad students just made their first step on the road to Republicanism.
Organizing the rally was the GTAC with an assist from the AFT, the American Federation of Teachers. The union gets its hooks in early. Misty Porter, a first-year doctoral student in the geology department, more or less captured the union’s tax and spend philosophy. “I think it’s not just going to hurt students; it’s going to hurt the whole country,” said Porter. “Because if you don’t fund higher education, you don’t fund the people who are making your cell phones, that are going to build your roads, build your cars, build your houses.”
The bottom line, however, for Porter and others who joined the “walk out” is that they may have to pay more taxes. Apparently, tuition wavers will now be taxable. “You already have to pay taxes on the GTA money and your grants and scholarships sometimes are taxed as well. So you already have to pay taxes on that income which is hard enough,” said Porter. “So to pay taxes, more taxes, on money that’s half our salary because tuition is pretty much twice our salary.” What Porter may not realize is that non-cash income is routinely taxed. Welcome to the real world, Misty.
“We already have very little money,” said grad student Kait Salley who also joined the walk out. “People need to know what’s going on, and they need to support the local student community.” Tea party organizers take note. These students welcome your support.