Dear Commons Community,
Eight graduate students were arrested yesterday in Washington, D.C. for protesting the new Republican tax bill working its way through Congress. As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“Ben Groebe was frightened when he read that a tax plan recently passed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives included a provision that would effectively tax as income the tuition waivers graduate students receive to help pay for their studies.
So Mr. Groebe, a graduate student in astrophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, traveled here on Tuesday, along with dozens of graduate students and supporters from across the country, to protest outside of the office of the House speaker, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The tax on tuition waivers, Mr. Groebe told The Chronicle, would make graduate students’ income look markedly higher on paper that it actually is. “That means that the taxes are going to be prohibitively expensive,” he said, “and that’s going to make it too difficult for many of us to carry on, and we may have to drop out.”
Higher-education groups have fiercely opposed the proposed tax on tuition waivers, which appears in the House plan, but not in the Senate version.
“I’ve already sunk several years of my life’s work into this. I’m getting ready to conduct research, and I teach students every semester from start till finish,” said Scott Ross, a third-year doctoral student in anthropology at George Washington University. “I’ve put a lot of work into this, and to have to throw that all away because some Republicans don’t like universities is really upsetting.”
The protesters wore “Fighting for the Future of Higher Ed” shirts and makeshift armbands that read #GOPTaxScam, referring to a popular hashtag opposing the tax bills in the House and Senate.
U.S. Capitol Police officers awaited their arrival, standing outside of Speaker Ryan’s office with plastic cuffs, anticipating potential arrests.
The group knocked on Speaker Ryan’s door.
“We know you’re in there,” one protester said.
“It’s the American public,” said another.
“And a Wisconsinite!” shouted still another from the back of the group.
When the knocks went unanswered, a group of students sat down, and began chanting. “Kill the bill!” the group exclaimed.
The Capitol Police warned the protesters that if they did not cease and desist, they would be arrested, as the officers began to usher those who were not seated toward the elevators. The chants continued.
After several warnings, the officers began to detain those who were seated and protesting, walking them toward the stairs to be processed. Eight graduate students were arrested, along with one supporter.
Mr. Groebe was among those arrested.”
As this bill moves closer to passage by Congress, we will see more protests against its provisions. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, nearly half of all Americans oppose the new Republican tax plan. For related content, see:
- Graduate Students Mobilize ‘to Stop Something That Can Ruin Us’
- Tax Reform That Students, Colleges, and Our Country Can’t Afford
- Passage of Senate Tax-Reform Bill Leaves Colleges Scrambling