Contract legality question
I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this but I'm looking for advice so if someone could advise me where I could possibly seek guidance, that would be great. I figured HR professionals might be of help because it is a job/HR issue.
Some background information. I'm a full-time graduate student but I was also hired as a graduate assistant. I signed a contract for the graduate assistant position for the academic year which pays me a small stipend per week in addition to having my tuition paid for. In the contract it states I will work 20 hours per week. In the graduate assistant manual, it clearly states graduate assistants will work a maximum of 20 hours per week.
However, the department I am working in and for the specific graduate assistant job I have, made it quite clear that working just 20 hours a week was not OK. And in fact, previous G.A.'s worked a standard 40 hour work week (10 to 6) in addition to having numerous assignments on week nights and weekends. It's an athletic department at a major D-I university and requires working events and traveling with teams so a lot of weekends are completely away and working quite a bit. I wasn't aware prior to be hiring that this was the case. I figured it'd be around 20 hours, not 48 a week. It seems highly unfair because if you are a G.A. in another department, say the history department or the business school, you get paid the same amount but only have to work those 20 hours under the same exact contract.
It seems quite clear that what this department is doing is violating the contract and it upsets me because they are getting a lot of free value out of me, not to mention overtime. I am not sure what my options are. Classes are about to start so if I quit I will lose my tuition and then I can find a full time job and go to classes part-time, which is OK. But I feel I shouldn't have to be put in this position because I am quite okay with working to the extent the contract deems. I am, however, not OK with a 40-plus hour work week. Should I seek out the HR department with the university? If I do that, don't I risk creating a bad working situation for myself? Should I quit? It just seems unfair me to have to quit when I've been mislead. And there are many other G.As in this department that work long hours but never have thought to complain about it before, at least not that I am aware of. I just started. If anyone could provide any guidance or direct me to a Web site or someone else that might be of help, I'd greatly appreciate. I am very confused about the situation.