The Grad Student | The Fool

Finding our way

Good morning, friends,

The VFC is launching a new initiative! We’ve been working all spring to develop resources for international graduate students. Read on to learn more about our work and how you can get involved.

On Tuesday, we were honored to join NYU’s Grad Student Organizing Committee to read tarot on the picket line.

As of Friday, the union has a tentative agreement, and we’re so inspired by the determination and accomplishments of these student workers. In today’s newsletter, we’re celebrating their work and sharing what the cards had to say.

In solidarity,

Hannah for the VFC



This week in feelings

Take this week's feelings survey

Last week’s feelings survey was impacted by what is inarguably the funniest mistake we’ve ever made. In case you missed it, here’s the turtle tiktok.

As the spring semester comes to an end, you’re all still feeling exhausted and anxious.

it’s so difficult to keep believing.

Numb. I feel numb. There is no end in sight.

Tenured and know I won the lottery, but the currency changed and my winnings have become worthless.

This week, there’s also a rise in outrage: a growing number of you are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Organizing union members around our bargaining campaign!!

We want to send some special love to the person who reported finishing their cancer treatment this week. Wishing you health and rest. 💕


Introducing: The international students’ advocacy project

Take the International Students' Survey

International graduate students, compared to their domestic counterparts, experience multiple additional barriers to success that cut or significantly limit their access to vital resources for academic and professional development and/or mental and physical health.

The aggregate impact of the current pandemic, the unpromising job market, and other related crises have further complicated the already precarious lives of international graduate students.

A VFC team led by international graduate students has been working all spring to strategize around international student advocacy. The goal:

We want to map the landscape of your diverse experiences, we want to know where these experiences converge and diverge, we want to understand what your most immediate concerns and needs are, and we want to know what changes you hope to see in the future.

We also hope to open channels of communication between all international students beyond national and geopolitical lines. Tell us what you want us to know and help us help you and others like you.

Visit the project website for more information, and please share the survey with your community.



The long journey: A tarot reading

This week Coyote & Bones joined the NYU Graduate Student Union for an academic tarot reading. Union members asked for clarity about their strike and its outcomes. The result, if we do say so ourselves, was magic. 🔮

Card 0: The Graduate Student

The first card we drew was The Graduate Student, the very first card in the Major Arcana. From our reader’s guide:

The protagonist of traditional tarot, The Fool represents beginnings, spontaneity, and innocence. Drawing The Grad Student is a reminder that on this journey, we don’t yet know the things we don’t know.

Drawing the graduate student made it clear that the deck understood exactly who its audience was. We found comfort in the idea that resistance to oppression is a journey, and that the outcome of this strike is just the beginning of a long fight for justice.

Card 15: The Board

The second card we drew was The Board. In the context of the strike, this card is the card of our antagonist. From our reader’s guide:

In traditional tarot, The Devil, like the leaders of our institutions, is neither inherently good nor evil. Its value is determined by the power we cede to it and by the choices we make.

This is an empowering card, which speaks to the strength that each of us have even in the context of an extraordinary abuse of power from above. As our guide says: “Freedom will come, not by working harder, but by prioritizing people over things.”

Card 5: The Department Admin (reversed)

The third card we drew was The Department Admin. After two very explicit draws, this card was unexpected.

Upright, it is the card of the institutional structures that codify knowledge and the people who hold the keys to access. In the context of the strike, we understood this to refer to the ways that universities gatekeep knowledge, but also to the importance of building alliances with workers across the university.

Upright, this card encourages people to follow the rules. We drew this card reversed, however, and the reading couldn’t be more clear:

Reversed, this card says the opposite. Instead of entrenching yourself in tradition, it’s time to rebel, resist, and find new way of moving within the world.

Sending strength, love, and solidarity to everyone who is finding new way to resist. 🌱