In addition to research and teaching, I serve as a trustee of the Telluride Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering small educational communities for young people based on intellectual inquiry, self-government, and service. Among our programs are the Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS), a series of intensive six-week residential seminars for rising high school juniors interested in Critical Black and Ethnic Studies; and the Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP), a parallel program for rising high-school seniors addressing topics across the humanities and social sciences. All Telluride programs are offered at no cost, with travel subsidies and summer-earnings offsets available to participants with financial need. My own life was transformed by TASP, and it continues to be enriched through service to the Association. If you know a student who could benefit from our programs, I hope you’ll send them our way!
I am also an organizer with Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers Local 2110, the union for research and teaching assistants at Columbia. After conducting a successful card drive in the fall of 2014, we spent nearly two years working through the National Labor Relations Board to overturn the NLRB’s 2004 Brown decision stripping graduate workers of our collective bargaining rights. This effort bore fruit in August 2016, when the Board ruled in our favor, restoring collective bargaining for graduate workers and thereby paving the way for unionization at private universities across the country. In a December 2016 election administered by the NLRB, graduate workers at Columbia ratified our union by a margin of 1602 to 623, thereby making Columbia the second unionized private university, after NYU. Press coverage of our campaign has been extensive; below are a few pieces introducing the work that we have been doing since the fall of 2013:
- The New York Times – Graduate Students Vote Overwhelmingly to Unionize [December 9, 2016]
- The New York Times – Grad Students Win Right to Unionize in Ivy League Case [August 23, 2016]
- NPR – Are Grad Students Employees? Labor Board to Again Weigh In [April 7, 2016]
- Village Voice – Columbia Graduate Student Workers Fight Administration for the Right to Unionize [December 3, 2015]
- The New York Times – Columbia Graduate Students Push for a Labor Union [March 3, 2015]
- The New Yorker – A Pioneering Union at Columbia? [December 5, 2014]
Finally, I work as a guide for Big Onion Walking Tours, introducing tourists and New Yorkers alike to the magic of the city’s often tumultuous but never boring past. More than just a part-time job, Big Onion offers me the opportunity to demonstrate the power and the pleasure of historical analysis to people who might never set foot in a history classroom. Check us out at bigonion.com.