Judge: University of Michigan grad student workers must submit grades completed prior to March 29 strike

GEO members continue to withhold grades

Members of the University of Michigan's Graduate Employees Organization strike on the Diag on March 29, 2023. Student employees are demanding a living wage and better healthcare from the university. (U-M Graduate Employees Organization)

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan and the Graduate Employees’ Organization have come to an agreement that student instructors will submit all grades recorded prior to the union’s strike on March 29.

The measure also includes assignments that were submitted prior to the strike date but remain ungraded.

An order was issued on April 20 by Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Carol Kuhnke confirming the agreement between the two parties and instructing the union to call on its members to submit all grades as soon as possible.

“The university appreciates that the union has agreed to submit grades and related materials,” university spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

“As per this agreement, GEO has sent a statement to members telling them to turn in any teaching materials from prior to the strike,” GEO Contract Committee Chair Amir Fleischmann wrote in an email to A4. “Very few GSIs had taken these materials down in the first place, so we do not expect the agreement to have much of an impact one way or another. Hundreds of GSIs and a growing number of faculty remain committed to withholding final grades until contract negotiations are resolved and we’ve won the living wage we deserve.”

GEO Secretary Karthik Ganapathy said in some cases, supervisors locked their graduate student instructors out of their grading accounts and called on the university administration to restore all access so grades can be submitted.

“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,” Ganapathy said in a statement provided to the University Record. “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.”

According to emails obtained by the University Record, the administration has ordered the appointment of “alternate faculty” to help calculate and submit grades in GSI-led courses.