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UMich disputes claim it ‘falsified’ grades due to grad worker strike

‘The claim that the registrar is pressuring non-instructional staff to submit straight As is false,’ university spokesman says

Graduate student employees striking at the University of Michigan falsely claimed that the university pressured them into falsifying incomplete student grades, according to the school’s media team.

“[The] Registrar is pressuring non-instructional staff to submit straight As for students whose grades are being withheld as part of the ongoing graduate worker strike,” the Graduate Employees’ Organization 3550 stated in a news release. “The move to fabricate grades for hundreds of students is only the Administration’s latest attempt to cover up the fiasco that has led to a six-week strike,” the union stated.

However, the university disputed this claim in comments provided to The College Fix.

“The claim that the registrar is pressuring non-instructional staff to submit straight As is false,” university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told The Fix via email on May 22. “The truth is that deans at each of our schools and colleges have been tasked with working with department chairs and faculty to ensure any missing grades are entered as soon as possible.”

“Many of the remaining missing grades are unfortunate consequences of graduate student instructors who neglected to complete their duties, violated the contract they signed and failed their fellow students,” Fitzgerald said.

Despite the strike, the “overwhelming majority” of student grades for the spring semester has been submitted, Fitzgerald told The Fix. Of the classes with outstanding grades, a majority are independent study and study-abroad courses, which are typically submitted later than usual.

“Every effort is being made to ensure that grades are as accurate as possible utilizing the evidence that is available,” Fitzgerald told The Fix.

The Fix reached out to GEO via email to ask for proof that grades were improperly inputted and asked how the university should have ensured students received grades for courses that were prematurely ended due to the strike. It did not respond to inquiries sent in the past week and a half.

The union did post screenshots of an email on Twitter from Professor Gauav Desai, chair of the English department and another one from Professor Andreas Gailus, chair of the Germand department.

DeSai wrote in an email that the “[p]rovost and the college are requiring departments to post grades in all classes in which grades have not yet been posted.” He also stated that “none of us are doing this willingly.”

Gailus instructed graduate student employees to give straight “A’s” to all students in courses impacted by the strike. He asked recipients to let him know “if you see a better solution to the dilemma.”

The president of a workers’ rights group criticized the union for its strike and offered legal assistance for any members who disagreed with the actions.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said via an emailed statement to The Fix:

Union bosses may be the loudest voices during a strike situation, like the one going on now among University of Michigan graduate students, but in our experience there is frequently a sizable, if less vocal contingent of those impacted by the strike who do not agree with the strike order and the union officials’ tactics. Those graduate students should know that, despite union officials’ propaganda, they have the right to resign membership in the union and resume working.

He said his group has helped “countless others, from educators to truck drivers, grocery clerks to automakers, who decided to work despite a union strike order they disagree with.”

MORE: Indiana University cuts doctoral admissions to pay for 46% raise

IMAGE: GEO 3550/Twitter

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About the Author
Rachel Lalgie -- University of Florida