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Demystifying Facts From Fiction

Graduate Assistants Claim 80% of Undergraduate Students Are Taught by GAs

While UHPA supports the right for all public employees to have the ability to collectively bargain under the State’s collective bargaining law, statements that go unchecked can lead to unintended consequences that impact other parties.

Most recently, Academic Labor United (ALU) claimed that 80% of all undergraduate students are taught by a Graduate Assistant (GA) in any given semester.  This claim is now being used by Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, to attack and question the issue of Faculty workload.

ALU claimed that “In Fall 2023, out of the 1,536 graduate student workers, 579 were Teaching Assistants.  If TAs average 20 students, that means around 11,600 undergraduates have been directly affected by our labor.  The UH Mānoa undergraduate population is approximately 14,500, that’s almost 80% of the undergraduate population attending TA led classes.  And that is only considering one class.  In most cases, undergrads take multiple classes that are taught by TAs.”


  • In February 2023, the UHM had a total of 498 Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). 
  • Of the 2543 undergraduate sections (excluding x99s) taught at Mānoa, a total of: 
    • 579 sections, or 22.7%, involved a GTA serving in any capacity
    • 187 sections, or 7.3%, had a GA as the instructor of record 
  • If we include the additional 123 sections (labs and recitations) that a GA led, we would have a total of 310 sections that involved a GA teaching undergrads, or 12.1% of all undergrad sections taught at Mānoa.


  • Basic elementary math reflects that these numbers do not equate close to the 80% claim by ALU and now being used against UH Faculty by Senator Donna Mercado Kim.

We hope that this type of misinformation will be corrected and clarified in that it doesn’t distract from the real issue which is GA’s are public employees and should be entitled to collective bargaining rights under the law.