The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.
Update 5/18: This article has been updated to include an email to U-M faculty from University Provost Laurie McCauley.
The University of Michigan is working with departments and faculty to enter missing grades from the winter semester in the midst of the Graduate Employees’ Organization’s ongoing strike, despite GEO’s claims that this violates principles of academic integrity.
University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen told The Michigan Daily in an email that the majority of grades are submitted, but some grades are still missing.
“The overwhelming majority of grades for the winter term have been submitted (about 95%),” Broekhuizen wrote. “Of the classes with grades still outstanding, a majority are independent study and study-abroad courses that customarily arrive later than usual. Many of the remaining missing grades are the unfortunate consequences of GSIs who neglected to complete their duties, violated the contract they signed and failed their fellow students. The University is continuing its efforts to provide students with the grades they deserve for the work they have completed.”
In an email to The Daily, Rackham student Amir Fleischmann, GEO contract committee chair, said he believes the University’s plan to enter missing grades means final grades may not accurately reflect students’ work throughout the winter semester.
“The Administration’s decision to enter grades on behalf of striking GSIs is a strike-breaking move and a violation of our academic freedom,” Fleischmann wrote. “It goes directly against SACUA’s statement on grades and undermines the pedagogical reputation of the University. We’ve seen reports that Deans are having non-instructional staff — workers who’ve never taught anyone, let alone the students they’re now ‘grading’ — input straight As for students on behalf of striking GSIs.”
In a press release, Rackham student Karthik Ganapathy, GEO secretary, said entering grades on behalf of striking GSIs is disrespectful to both graduate workers and undergraduate students, and could jeopardize the University’s accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.
“Fake grades that are totally detached from students’ progress, learning, and work mean that the Administration is now not only disrespecting graduate workers, but all students who deserve thoughtful feedback and legitimate grades,” Ganapathy said. “Ultimately, the Administration’s action could put the University’s accreditation at risk.”
Broekhuizen said the University is working to ensure all grades entered reflect student work and do not penalize students for how the strike may have affected their semester.
“Every effort is being made to ensure that grades are as accurate as possible utilizing the evidence that is available,” Broekhuizen wrote. “Students should not – and will not – be penalized for their GSIs’ failures to complete their contractual obligations.”
In an email to U-M faculty obtained by The Daily, University Provost Laurie McCauley said the administration is working to address concerns over grading while upholding the University’s academic integrity.
“We are looking into those concerns and asking leaders across our units to do all they can to ensure that grades are as accurate as possible and meet our standard of academic integrity,” McCauley wrote. “I want to be clear that there has been no blanket mandate regarding how schools, colleges, or departments resolve this issue. On the contrary, I have asked deans to work with department chairs and faculty to ensure all students receive grades as soon as possible.
Fleischmann wrote he believes this decision by the University may further aggravate the state of contract negotiations, increasing the chances that the strike continues into the fall term.
“This is shameful behavior from an Administration that never seems to cease stooping to new lows,” Flesichmann wrote. “This move makes a fall strike more likely.”
Summer News Editor Miles Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.