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WHOI gives grad students raises as local cost of living continues to rise

Liz Lerner

Graduate students at the Woods Hole Oceanographic institution will receive a 10% raise to deal with the rising cost of living on Cape Cod.

In a statement, a WHOI spokesperson said the that institution recognizes the struggle to find affordable housing and navigate inflation.

“WHOI wants the best and brightest talent to join our community.  We recognize that our graduate students are feeling inflationary pressures on the cost of living and the housing shortage here on Cape Cod,” said Suzanne Pelisson, director of public relations.  “This increase to stipends for WHOI graduate students paid through WHOI, is meant to help address these challenges in order to attract and retain talent.”

Fourth-year grad student Emma Bullock said students will now make $4,169 a month, but more support is needed.

“If we don't make working here affordable for underrepresented students and  students from lower socioeconomic classes, then it’s not just going to be a matter of living conditions, it’s going to be a matter of diversity,” she said,  “because we won't be able to attract and retain talented students from these underrepresented groups.” 

According Bullock, a 2022 survey found that many grad students reported being homeless while working in Woods Hole.

“Which is astonishing to me,” she said. “I don't understand how a world class research institution can allow its employees to not be able to afford or find housing.” 

The raise, which is the largest in years, comes after months of urging by the WHOI Grad Students Union.

The union, which represents roughly 150 grad students, is currently seeking formal recognition by the institution to push for improved working conditions.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.