IU Board Elect Vivian Winston Talks Graduate Union

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Just one year after retiring from a teaching position at Kelley School of BusinessVivian Winston will return to Indiana University’s Bloomington campus in August, this time as an influential leader.

Winston will serve a three-year term at IU Board of Directors following his election by the elders in June. Winston received 8,196 votes out of a total of 16,302; his opponents, Josh Kornberg and Sandford S. Kunkel, each received 4,351 and 3,755 votes respectively.

Winston is expected to be sworn in at the next board meeting in August.

“I’ve always loved IU and having the chance to make an impact on this level is really exciting,” Winston said.

Winston earned a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters of Business Administration from IU Bloomington. She worked as an internal auditor and business manager for WTIU-TV and WFIU-FM before taking up a teaching position. For 13 years, Winston taught approximately 26,000 students in total as a professor at the Kelley School.

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In this role, Winston said he saw how students, especially those in their early years, struggled on campus. Winston said she intends to identify gaps in the university’s support coverage and expand student services, particularly mental health resources and advisory roles.

“I want to make sure there are enough advisors so they can spend time with students and make sure students know what they need to do to graduate,” Winston said, adding that it will increase overall student success.

With her background as a CPA, Winston said she also plans to closely monitor the university’s operating budget to ensure IU remains affordable.

“Hopefully, I can see places where the university might be able to economize and just be a better steward of its resources,” Winston said.

Picketers show their support for the strike by graduate workers at the Sample Gates on April 20, 2022.

New admin speaks out on IU graduate labor dispute

Winston also discussed one of the most pressing issues facing IU: the unionization of graduate students.

In April, many graduate students went on strike for four weeks, request union recognition from the IU administration and a formal process to discuss benefits, higher wages and reduced fees.

In response, Provost Rahul Shrivastav announced a series of changes and new initiatives, including a higher allowance and a specialized working group, but the administrators and board of directors were determined to reject union organizing efforts.

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As a longtime Bloomington faculty member, Winston said this labor dispute had been simmering for several years and should have been resolved sooner before it came to a head.

“I believe everyone should be paid a fair wage. I want everyone’s opinions to be respected,” Winston said.

Winston said she plans to speak with senior campus administrators at peer universities around the Big Ten Academic Alliance to see how they handled similar situations. In the Big Ten, six universities have graduate student unions while eight do not.

Winston said she was interested in meeting the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalitionthough, like her counterparts, she is uninterested in the prospect of an IU graduate student union.

“I’ve always been pretty anti-union and would rather see the situation resolved without a union,” Winston said. “I think everyone would benefit from that.”

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Winston said she looked forward to connecting with her fellow administrators about the situation in the fall. Although the directors have made their position on unionization clear, the labor dispute is far from over. IGWC members are expected to resume strike action in the fall.

Contact Rachel Smith at [email protected] or @RachelSmithNews on Twitter.

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