THE TRITON independent, student-run news source at the University of California, San Diego
April 22, 2020

The Current: Looking Back on COLA

Ella Chen, Editor-in-Chief of The Triton


Happy Earth Day, and welcome to Week 4! The last time I checked in with you, we were just kicking off recruitment. Since then, we’ve had our first town hall and information session. If you’re interested in joining our staff, our recruitment flyer is attached in the newsletter. Also, look out for our upcoming announcement for our quarterly Reddit AMA during Week 7. 

This issue, I want to dedicate space to look back on the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) movement that swept through the UC system over the last few months. As you read more, you will look back on the COLA timeline with me and learn how the movement affected more than just graduate students. 

As always, let me know how we can keep engaging with you and keep you informed. I will be hosting office hours every week via Zoom. Check our website for the link to my weekly office hours. Drop by to say hi, keep me company, or chat about current events. 

I look forward to hearing from you soon. You can also always reach me at Happy reading!

Always investigating, 
Ella Chen
Editor-in-Chief 2019–20


Photo courtesy of Jacob Sutherland/The UCSD Guardian


Connor Gorry / The Triton

Even though we wish we could report on all news that comes through our channels, we have to prioritize coverage to meet our audience’s interests. So here are some news bites we still want you to know about:


Kristina Stahl / The Triton

Even though we are incredibly proud of our news section, we still want to give some love to the Opinion and Arts and Culture sections that have been working hard to publish consistent, and thoughtful, content. 


  • As a biochemistry major, I am well-aware of the “STEM culture” that characterizes a large part of UCSD. I recognize how difficult it is to find a suitable lab and pick up a research project during undergraduate years. In this op-ed, Opinion Staff Writer Nora Lyang dives into a lot of problems with labs that hire undergraduate researchers such as long hours, lack of pay and the shortness of options. 


A COLA Recap

Photo courtesy of Arlene Banuelos / The Triton

Before we dive into more details, you're probably wondering...What's COLA?

In September 2019, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), UC Student Workers Union, United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865, and graduate students at University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) began to call for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). According to the original website, COLA would mean that “for every graduate student, regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment or funding status,” the adjustment would guarantee “non-retaliation,” not raise tuition or campus fees, and relieve students’ “out of rent burden.” For UCSC students, this meant “an additional monthly payment of $1,412.”


  • The strike at UCSC begins on December 9, 2019. As part of the strike, graduate students do not submit Fall 2019 grades. 

  • By Winter Quarter 2020, the strike has gained recognition across the UC system. Similar COLA movements spread throughout each of the UCs, with each campus organizing individual grading strikes and walkouts/protests in solidarity with Santa Cruz. At UCSD, the rally temporarily shut down Geisel Library. Some university professors even joined the picket line

  • In response to the strike, the UC system threatened to terminate graduate students that were withholding grades in solidarity with COLA. Over 54 UCSC graduate students were fired, leading more graduate students at other campuses to join the grading strike

  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the COLA4ALL movement ended on April 9. The grading strike ended, and graduate students agreed to submit Winter Quarter 2020 grades. 

  • Instead, leaders of the movement have said that they will focus their attention on actions that don’t require additional work from faculty and staff. 

Arlene Banuelos / The Triton

  • Although the grading strike has ended, the COLA movement is still important to remember.

  • Although we may not all be graduate students, we must recognize that graduate-level employees occupy many educational offices. Teaching Assistants play a vital role in grading, discussion sections and lab research. 

  • The COLA movement is just how these students are asking for their basic needs to be met. Without access to basic needs, these graduate students are unable to support themselves and complete the responsibilities asked of them at work.


Be a member of our staff today! Our office has always been virtual, and we want you to help us keep our campus informed! 

What We're Reading

Even though The Triton is UCSD’s premier digital news source, we still keep up with other media outlets to see what they’re covering. As journalists, it’s our duty to read what other journalists are reporting on. This is what has been keeping us current:

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Content Copyright © 2016-2019 The Triton. The Triton is not in anyway affiliated with UC San Diego and the opinions expressed therein are not the overall public opinions of UCSD, ASUCSD, or our staff. Materials produced by The Triton do not reflect the views of the Regents of the University of California and the Regents do not endorse, warrant, or otherwise take responsibility for said content. Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Triton Editorial Board.

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