Housing and International Students

Table of contents
  1. Housing
  2. International Students
    1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    2. SEVIS Fee
    3. Legal Hotline


Housing is not a labor issue and is never a part of the collective bargaining.

One of the main pieces of misinformation spread by PGSU is that they can address the housing issue. In all of their correspondence, they have implied that the union can help address housing concerns. However, when you read the Management and Academic Rights in existing graduate student unions’ ratified contracts, it is clear that the universities retain the sole right to manage housing matters.

Below are the relevant sections confirming that the universities retain the right to manage housing matters:

University Ratified Contract Section Relevant Text
Yale Article 3.1.q Decide matters related to university housing.
MIT Article 8.1.H To alter, extend, or discontinue existing equipment, facilities, and location(s) of operations.
Harvard Article 17.1.P to determine and modify policies and financial costs and charges associatedwith University housing.
Columbia Article 1.2.s Decide matters related to housing for Student Employees covered by this Agreement.
UChicago Article 6.1.O To open, close in whole or in part, consolidate, reorganize, relocate and expand any of the University’s facilities, operations and programs.

Yes, this means that PGSU cannot negotiate for having air conditioning in the university housing. This matter has been re-affirmed by the memo #4 from Graduate School.

International Students

As an international student myself, I have found the promises made by PGSU to be grossly unattainable. This provision is commonly used by the PGSU to attract our international student colleagues to vote for the union. While a graduate student union can help with labor issues, they cannot assist with housing matte

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a type of work authorization that allows international students to undertake off-campus internships without using their Optional Practical Training (OPT) time by treating the internships as academic courses.

As the matter of academic courses falls beyond the scope of labor issues that can be negotiated by the union, PGSU cannot help with this matter. Similar to housing matters, universities retain the right to manage academic matters.

It is misleading for PGSU to suggest that they can help with CPT matters, as the final decision lies with the university. Please read the relevant CPT statements from ratified contracts from Yale and UChicago below:

  • Yale - Article 12.6

    Following and subject to the University’s verification that the Graduate Worker meets eligibility requirements for training programs, including but not limited to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), international Graduate Workers will not be denied by the University, or its agents, access to such programs. Administration of these programs shall not be discriminatory, nor shall application to or use of these programs be a cause for discrimination.

  • UChicago - Article 14.7

    The University will follow federal law and policy as it relates to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for GSEs on F-1 visas. CPT requests will not be arbitrarily denied. The University shall not retaliate if a GSE elects to use these benefits.

CPT is an academic matter, and decisions regarding academic matters rests solely with university. All the union can do is reiterate that the university should follow the federal law and policy.


For non-international student readers, the SEVIS fee is a one-time payment that all international students must make to the U.S. government to maintain their student visa status.

This fee is only paid once when the student begins their education in the U.S. In fact, international students who pursued their undergraduate studies in the U.S. do not need to pay this fee again when they start their graduate studies. While the fee is not cheap, $350 for F-1 visa and $220 for J-1 visa, it is not even half of the union dues that the PGSU is asking for. In addition, the SEVIS fee will only be relevant for first-year students, who are covered by a fellowship and not part of the bargaining unit.

Princeton University has a hotline that you can contact in case if you have immigration issues at the border. It is written clearly under the Incomplete Documentation section of the Davis IC - Welcome Guide.

In the case of international travel, the university also has an emergency hotline that you can contact anywhere in the world. See more information on the Global Safety & Security website.

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Page last modified: 2024-05-06.