TAA celebrates 30 years of activism

April 29, 1999

The oldest graduate student union in the nation celebrates three decades of existence starting Thursday, April 29, with four days of events planned to highlight its storied history.

The Teaching Assistants’ Association 30th anniversary events are scheduled April 29-May 2. For more information, contact the TAA, 256-4375.

The Teaching Assistants’ Association is using the opportunity to educate current members about its past and reach out to former members.

“A lot of us don’t know about the strike in 1970, or our start in the 1960s, or that we bargained educational policy in the 1970s,” says Susan Munkres, co-chair of the 30th Anniversary Planning Committee and a graduate student in sociology. “Not many of us have a context for why things change.”

The 30th anniversary celebration kicks off Thursday with a membership meeting at 7:15 p.m. at 1121 Humanities. All former TAA members are invited. Other events include:

  • Friday, April 30: The TAA’s history will be on display in the main lounge of the Pres House, located on University Mall at 731 State St., starting at 3 p.m. Posters, slides and videos from the past 30 years will be shown. At 7 p.m., Frank and Dolores Emspak, both former TAA members in the early ’70s, will discuss the TAA and the future of academic labor during the keynote speech in the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. The crowd will move to the Memorial Union Terrace at 9 p.m. for a traditional TAA on the Terrace party.
  • Saturday, May 1: Panel discussions on TAA struggles and successes and TAA memories will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Pres House. Alisa Rosenthal, last year’s TAA co-president, will moderate the first panel, while David Newby of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO will moderate the second. A reception follows at 4:30 p.m., more slides and videos will be shown at 7 p.m., and a dance party at Union South begins at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 2: Anniversary events conclude with roundtable discussions starting at 9:30 a.m. at the TAA office in the Memorial Union, 800. The informal sessions with past and present TAA leaders include topics such as diversity, labor solidarity, legislation/political education and women’s/feminist caucus.

Munkres hopes that reaching out to past members will lead to a stronger TAA. “Being in touch with past years’ people could keep the information flowing so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel on certain issues,” she says.

She adds that supportive faculty and other supporters of the TAA are especially invited to attend all of the anniversary events.