GAU

Outside Tigert Hall, the Co-President of Graduate Assistant United Alec Dunnin prepares to deliver a basket filled with items graduate students can’t afford because of university fees on Nov. 19, 2015. The 27-year-old UF political science PhD student said GAU wanted to make the $720 fee real and visible in a creative way.

Caitlin Ostroff / Alligator Staff

Graduate assistants gifted a UF administrator a basket including bills, a bra and a condom.

Four members of UF’s Graduate Assistants United delivered the gift basket to UF Provost Joseph Glover’s office at Tigert Hall on Thursday morning. The basket, which they described as a work of art, represented items graduate assistants have to go without due to the semesterly $720 in fees they pay.

"That’s what we’re deprived of," GAU co-president Lia Merivaki, 32, said. "We’re saying, ‘Shame on you, UF.’"

GAU wanted to show what the $720 fee means in a creative way, so members left the basket outside Glover’s office, GAU Co-President Alec Dunnin, 27, said. The group hoped to make an abstract number seem real.

The fee for graduate assistants was due last week, the political science doctoral student said.

The fee increases every year, which creates a hardship on graduate assistants, said Kevin Funk, a political science doctoral student. After paying university fees, one-third of graduate assistants qualify as living in poverty.

While the university has opened a food pantry to help feed students, Funk, 33, said it has not been willing to meet the needs of graduate assistants to keep them out of poverty.

"It seems extremely ironic," he said.

Glover could not be reached for comment.

If the basket doesn’t convince UF to give graduate assistants a salary increase, GAU will keep trying to reach out to the administration, Funk said.

"We’ll try all of the different avenues of communication we need to try," he said.

Although there was no contact information on Glover’s basket, the group said he’d know who it was from.

It was signed: "With love, Graduate Assistants United."

Contact Caitlin Ostroff at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ceostroff