The small desk on the Plaza of the Americas was stacked with canned vegetables, boxes of crackers and drinks that will go toward feeding graduate assistants and their families.
The food drive, hosted by Graduate Assistants United, an organization representing UF’s 4,000 graduate, teaching and research assistants, collected food donations and household supplies Wednesday and Thursday for students in need.
UF graduate assistant Sebastian Sclofsky, a 37-year-old Uruguay native who has been in the U.S. for four years with his wife and two children, said it was the first year since he has arrived at UF that the organization has found the need to host a food drive for graduate assistants.
“A lot of our fellow co-workers are under a lot of financial stress, and we wanted to reduce that, but at the same time we want to raise awareness about the working conditions in which we are now,” he said.
Sclofsky said most graduate assistants at the university make between $13,000 and $14,000 a year.
Graduate assistants received paychecks Nov. 14, the same day university employee fees were due.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes wrote in an email that most of the graduate assistants at UF work part time due to their primary status as students.
“Raising the pay for graduate assistants remains a university priority,” she said. “Graduate assistants received total compensation package increases of more than 4 percent this year, and 5 percent last year.”
The response to the donation drive was immense, Sclofsky said.
Graduate Assistants United plans on handing out the donations at its office Monday in Yon Hall, Room 224, at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
[A version of this story ran on page 10 on 11/21/2014]
UF English sophomore Petrana Radulovic, 18, donated food to Thanksgiving, which goes to graduate assistants, on Thursday while talking to UF history graduate student Kyle Bridge, 24.