The University of Michigan and the Graduate Employees’ Organization have agreed that the union will advise graduate student instructors to turn in all grades that were recorded — and any ungraded assignments that were submitted — before the union went on strike March 29.
Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Carol Kuhnke issued an order April 20 confirming a stipulation between the two parties and instructing the union to notify its members to promptly submit grades, if they haven’t already submitted them.
Grades already submitted, either before or after March 29, should remain in the system and should not be removed or altered, according to university officials.
“The university appreciates that the union has agreed to submit grades and related materials,” said university spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen. “Getting grades in on time is critically important to students’ ability to access financial aid and loans, participate in varsity athletics, maintain student visa status, apply for jobs and graduate schools, and more.”
The university is calling on any graduate student workers or faculty members who have withheld grades to submit them immediately.
“We are pleased that GEO recognizes the harm that withholding grades can have on students, and the university is doing everything we can to make sure they are able to report grades and other relevant information as quickly and easily as possible,” Broekhuizen said.
Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Adele Brumfield said that because of federal reporting requirements and other deadlines, withholding grades could have serious, harmful and long-term consequences for undergraduate students, including but not limited to recalled federal loans and stoppages of financial aid.
The Office of Enrolment Management, which oversees financial aid and registrar services, adheres to federal regulations regarding the stewardship of financial aid. The timely and accurate processing of grades impacts students’ eligibility for financial aid.
The deadlines that the university has established for processing semester grades ensure timely and accurate assessment of student eligibility. If grades are not reported and processed on time, students may be required to return financial aid, may become ineligible for future financial aid, or both, Brumfield said.
In addition to impacts on student financial support, consequences of not receiving timely grades can include:
- Rescinded eligibility for sports and attendant financial packages.
- Withdrawn job offers that were contingent upon successful graduation.
- Withdrawn admission to professional and academic graduate education.
- Delays in the issuance of diplomas.
(GEO provided the Record with the following statement from Secretary Karthik Ganapathy: “Several supervisors revoked their GSI’s Canvas access with absolutely no evidence of whether the GSI was even on strike, thereby instituting a lockout, a practice highly frowned upon in labor disputes. As a union, we agreed to send out a notice to GSIs regarding work done prior to the strike in exchange for the administration restoring everyone’s Canvas access. I personally sent out the notice via email yesterday and hope the administration holds their end of the bargain.”)
In a statement issued April 21, the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs urged Provost Laurie McCauley, President Santa J. Ono and the university’s deans “to respect academic and pedagogic freedom and cease or correct any directives that require faculty or non-academic staff to enter grades in place of GSIs.”
SACUA also urged faculty members to reject requests to grade students they have not taught.
The statement by SACUA, the executive arm of U-M’s central faculty governance system, cited an April 17 email from Timothy McKay, LSA associate dean for undergraduate education, that “indicates that the administration is expecting and ordering chairs to appoint ‘alternate faculty’ to calculate and enter grades in classes where the GSIs are the sole instructors of record, and is asking chairs to report faculty who do not comply with this directive.”
The statement then quotes from McKay’s email: “Generally, the responsibility for calculating and reporting grades rests with the instructor of record, who is appointed by the department chair. When an instructor will not report grades, the chair may appoint an alternate to complete this task. If a faculty member refuses to report grades, we recommend that the chair contact their Divisional Associate Dean for help.”
McCauley said McKay’s email, which went to LSA department leaders, accurately reflects the situation. She reiterated the university expectation that grades be submitted, noting that there will be situations where others with appropriate authority may have to step in to submit grades.
She said this action is not a violation of pedagogical freedom when an instructor is unavailable to complete the semester.