Graduate students are like the cogs of a wheel without whom the teaching and research progress of Temple would come to a standstill. A large portion of the teaching responsibilities at Temple are accomplished through graduate students. This has led many within the university to think of graduate students as nothing more than a dispensable source of cheap labor.
I am an international student and a recent Fall 2010 graduate from the PhD program in chemistry. In the fall of 2010, the Department of Chemistry decided to double my teaching load while mentioning only half of that in the award letter I had signed. This, I am sure was a violation of my F-1 visa and also my contract.
A few other students had their teaching assignments increased to as much as 1.5 times of what had been written in their award letters. The Temple University Graduate Student Association had multiple meetings with the administration on our behalf about this issue. In spite of this representation, our teaching workload was not reduced. The university representatives decided not to do anything about our situation, and even refused to issue new award letters that stipulated the workload we were actually assigned.
They gave an ambiguous, rambling explanation of why they believed the newly assigned workloads were correct, and claiming we had previously been overpaid, but they refused to put these new workload calculations in writing. There is also currently a grievance that has been filed against the DoC for underpaying teacher assistants in the summer of 2011. No one knows how long the students have been under paid in the summer.
Given the downward spiral of the economy, I am pretty confident that such abuse and breach of contract is bound to occur more frequently. Even if all Temple cares about is its bottom line, this is not the way to minimize costs. Beyond the violation of legally binding contracts and federal immigration law, increasing workload and spreading graduate students too thin results in worse classroom instruction for the undergraduates, and less time for graduate students to do their research. This leads to decreased research progress for the faculty as much of their research is dependent on student work, hence leads to decrease in grants. With the state of affairs inside Temple being as unethical and demoralizing, it is clear that Temple does not care about its graduate students.