CAS Dean Andrew Marcus asks undergrads to rat out striking grad students

12/1/2014 update: Our administrators are burning a lot of bridges on this strike. Why? At this point the admin team has agreed to everything almost everything the GTF wanted. All that’s left is for Coltrane and Bronet to put it in writing. They don’t want to. This is silly, of course it has to be in writing.

Having been slapped down by the Senate on their attempt to get the faculty to weaken academic standards to help the admins break a GTF strike, our administration is now working on turning the undergrads against the grad students. Destroy everything, just so Scott Coltrane doesn’t have to admit he should have given up on sick leave back in August?

From: “Interim Tykeson Dean W. Andrew Marcus”
Date: December 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM PST
Subject: Attending your classes and submitting assignments as planned
Reply-To: “Interim Tykeson Dean W. Andrew Marcus”

Dear Students,

You are receiving this note because you are a student in one of the 45 programs that make up the College of Arts & Sciences, or because you are undeclared and receive advising through the college. You may be wondering what to do if Graduate Teaching Fellows go on strike this Tuesday, December 2. I advise you to attend all your classes as scheduled, and to submit all course requirements as stipulated by your instructors.

We are working diligently to minimize the impact on students should there be a strike. But various disruptions, including an instructor not attending a class, may still occur.

If you experience a disruption in your classroom, lab, or other academic experience due to a work stoppage, you may let us know by emailing casdean@uoregon.edu or calling 541-346-3902 with the course number and name, meeting time, instructor’s name, and class location.

We in the College of Arts and Sciences are dedicated first and foremost to ensuring that you achieve your academic objectives for this term.

Thank you.

W. Andrew Marcus
Interim Tykeson Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

11/28/2014 update: Administration fails to poll faculty and GTF’s on strike plans

There’s no sign that the administration’s team of well-paid strategic communicators got their act together on today’s promised (threatened?) survey of the faculty and GTFs about their strike plans. So instead I’m posting this letter from Professor Matthew Dennis to his History 201 students, with permission. Full letter here:

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 5.24.49 PM

11/27/2014 update: Administration to poll faculty on how to maintain academic standards during strike

Just kidding, there’s no evidence that the Senate legislation or all that heartfelt debate has had the slightest impact on Coltrane’s plans to degrade academic standards to make it easier to break a GTFF strike. To the contrary, the administration has moved from what AVP Ken Doxsee called “suggestions” to requirements, as in the new instructions about not assigning X or I grades. Combined with the new diktat below, this leaves faculty with essentially only one choice: assign some sort of letter grade based on work completed so far, even if that work is a small fraction of what is laid out in their syllabus, or even if that work would normally lead to a grade of incomplete.

Apparently they *will* be polling us (and the GTFs?) on Friday to ask us how we intend to comply with the administration’s increasingly desperate and confused instructions. The results will be “confidential” of course, unless the administration decides they will make for good PR spin:

Date: November 26, 2014 at 4:17:49 PM PST

From: “Senior Vice Provost” <srviceprovost@uoregon.edu>

Reply-To: srviceprovost@uoregon.edu

Subject: Academic Continuity Planning Update 11/26/14

Colleagues,

We committed to communicate with you whenever we have more information related to preparation for a possible strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. Please see below for today’s message, which deals with collecting course materials, grading, staff volunteers, and polling.

We wish all of you, our hard-working colleagues, a restful holiday weekend, and thank you for your help in this stressful time to bring the term to a successful close.

Sincerely,

Barbara Altmann Doug Blandy

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Course Material
In order to ensure that final grades can be issued, it will be important to collect any GTF-maintained course-related material for all courses supported by GTFs by Monday, December 1, 2014. The following language should be used to request this information.

In order to ensure that our students receive the grades they have worked hard for over the course of fall term, I need to collect copies of your syllabus (including any changes that you have made to the syllabus since the beginning of the term), class notes, grading notes, assignments (graded and ungraded) and any other documents you have relating to this {course, discussion section, lab, etc.}. Please provide me these documents by December 1, 2014.

It is important to note that my intent in making this request is not to give you additional work or to change your current work assignment in any way. Therefore, if you think that it will be burdensome to collect copies of these documents, please let me know and I can assist you with that task.

Grading
Some departments have asked if, in cases where it would not be possible to administer or grade final work, the best solution might be to give students an automatic/blanket grade such as a C, with the intention of changing grades later. For a variety of reasons, this is not a viable strategy. Faculty should assign the most appropriate grade for each student based on completed work. As always, an individual grade can be adjusted after the fact, if necessary.

Staff Volunteers
Yesterday (November 25, 2014), Human Resources launched a survey to ask for volunteers from around campus to help with logistics such as proctoring, printing and collating course material, building course monitors, etc. If your department or course needs additional assistance, please send a request through your dean/associate dean or call 541-346-8070 (the Emergency Operations Center).

Polling
The university recognizes and respects the GTFF’s right to declare a lawful strike and each individual’s right to decide whether or not to participate in a strike. The university’s Academic Continuity Team will administer a poll centrally on Friday, November 28, 2014, to solicit information that will provide some guidance to departments on coverage needs during the strike. The data will be shared with deans and departments for planning purposes. Please note that this poll must be coordinated centrally; faculty, researchers, and department heads should not duplicate this effort.

Attendance Tracking
The university is developing a centrally administered attendance tracking system for the strike. This system is still in development and more detailed information will be forthcoming. The central data will be provided to departments for review. Departments will not need to develop their own system for tracking attendance.

11/26/2014: Coltrane flips Senate the bird on Legislation opposing degradation of academic standards

The Senate legislation is here, the debate is here. But our Johnson Hall colleagues could give a rip about the faculty’s right to control academic standards and grading – here’s their response. They are going to simply assign grades if needed. How? Everyone gets a C? Or using Blackboard’s new random grade generator module?

From: Division of Student Life [mailto:vpsl@uoregon.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Subject: IMPORTANT INFORMATION regarding possible GTFF strike

Dear student,

As you may have heard, the members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federations have given notice that they intend to strike on Tuesday, December 2, if a contract agreement is not reached in mediation. If a strike occurs, you can expect that there will be some disruption to normal activities during dead week (Week 10) and finals week, including to classes and finals.

University leaders respect the right of GTFs to conduct a legal strike. While we continue to hope that an agreement will be reached and the strike will be averted, I know that there have been some questions about the impact of a strike on students.

We have developed the FAQ below to respond to your questions. The most important thing to know is that the administration is working on contingency plans that will ensure that grades will be entered to complete the term. The grading deadline has been extended to allow faculty and instructors more time to enter necessary information, so you may not see your grades posted as quickly as in other terms, but grades will be posted this term.

If you have further questions about a specific class or instructor, please contact the department office. You can find a list of department offices here.

If you have questions about your academic standing, please contact Academic Advising.

If you have specific questions about a scholarship you have or your financial aid, please contact your financial aid counselor.

If you are planning to graduate this term, and need a copy of your final transcript, please contact theOffice of the Registrar.

As we head into this stressful time, I hope you will let us know if we can provide any further information or support.

Robin H. Holmes Ph.D., Vice President
Division of Student Life
University of Oregon
Office: 220 Johnson Hall
6203 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6203
p: 541-346-1137 Shannon Rose, Assistant to the VPSL
e: vpsl@uoregon.edu
w: vpsl.uoregon.edu 

FAQs:

  1. Will classes and finals be canceled if GTFs strike?

If a strike occurs, students can expect that there will be some disruption to normal activities during dead week (Week 10) and finals week, including to classes and finals.  There are plans in place to ensure that grades will be entered to complete the term. The grading deadline has been extended to allow faculty and instructors more time to enter necessary information.

University leaders are also assisting departments with decisions that can be made to cancel some or all class hours during dead week if they are not tied to an exam. There may also be instances where the format of finals will be altered.  Finally, there may be courses in which students will be given the option to forgo a final and take the current grade.

In other cases, there will be no changes.  If you aren’t contacted about a change, activity will continue as planned.

  1. What do I do if I get to my class or final and there is no instructor?

If there is no one leading the class, discussion or lab, please contact the department office as soon as possible.

  1. What if I have an academic concern and I don’t know where to go? 

Undergraduate students with questions about academics should contact the Office of Academic Advising.  Graduate students should contact the Graduate School with questions.

  1. What if I have requested a final exam through the Accessible Education Center?

Final exams previously scheduled and approved through the Accessible Education Center will take place as confirmed. For individual questions or to notify AEC of any changes or cancellations, please contact aectesting@uoregon.edu

  1. Will grades be posted after exam week?

Yes, there are plans in place to ensure that grades will be entered to complete the term. Each department/ school/college has created a plan to ensure that grading is completed; those plans may be tailored to accommodate each individual situation. The grading deadline has been extended to allow faculty and instructors more time to enter necessary information, so grades may be posted later than usual.

  1. Will I receive my financial aid on time?

The decision to extend the grading deadline by a few days was made because of the importance of the financial aid timeline.  The university is committed to wrapping up fall term and keeping on schedule for December financial aid payments. The UO serves students first and foremost, and that will not be compromised.

  1. What if I have a scholarship that requires I maintain a certain GPA and my GTF doesn’t submit a grade?

There are plans in place to ensure that grades will be entered for all students and for all classes. If you have a question about a specific scholarship, you should contact your financial aid counselor.

  1. I’m applying to graduate / applying to a major this term. Will that be affected by a strike?

Students applying to graduate programs or applying for a major program should be unaffected by a strike, though the timeline for notification may be delayed.  Grades will be entered and students should contact the department, school or college for regular guidelines about those activities.

  1. Will my visa be affected if my professor doesn’t turn in a grade for my classes?

There are plans in place to ensure that grades will be entered to complete the term. The grading deadline has been extended to allow faculty and instructors more time to enter necessary information. Further, visa status is determined by enrollment, so if you have been enrolled this term, any delay in posting of grades will not impact your visa status.

  1. Will the strike have an impact on winter term?

Although we’ve been notified that a strike will begin on December 2, the duration is unknown.  University leaders hope for a respectful, swift resolution to the strike. No one can predict when agreement will be reached. Campus updates will be sent as this situation evolves.

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16 Responses to CAS Dean Andrew Marcus asks undergrads to rat out striking grad students

  1. Not random uniform says:

    Doug “Easy A” Blandy is in charge. B is the lowest possible grade.

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    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  2. Clueless says:

    The passive voice makes everything ok.

    “Grades will be given.”

    “Decisions will be made.”

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    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  3. Anonymous says:

    “Each department/ school/college has created a plan to ensure that grading is completed.”

    That’s news to me. I talked to my department head quite recently and was told that there is no plan for GTF-taught classes.

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    • Anas Clypeata says:

      Any department heads willing to share? Surely there must be a department head reading this blog who is willing to share his or her department’s plan for ensuring that grading is completed. If there is a strike, we’ll find out what those plans are soon enough. Why not share them ahead of time? Is there some advantage to keeping the plans, if they exist, secret?

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  4. dirtysouth says:

    All the non-union faculty are being assigned their updated teaching duties as quickly as possible now……

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  5. anonymous says:

    I don’t think they can ask GTFs about their plans regarding the strike.

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    • uomatters says:

      They started off saying that state labor law prevented them from asking this, but now they are saying it doesn’t. Go figure.

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      • anonymous says:

        The GTFF isn’t even asking GTFs this. I’d trust the GTFF’s info over UO’s, because the GTFF has a top-notch labor lawyer, and the UO, well, doesn’t.

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        • Zoner says:

          Yup, it appears Jeff Matthews put the carport a little too close to the property line on this one, as we say in the trade.

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  6. one cynic says:

    Ill-will.
    Lack of trust.
    Hardened hearts.
    Negativity.
    Trouble.

    Oh … but ‘go ducks!’

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  7. Michael Furtado says:

    Thank you, Matt, for this beautifully crafted statement of your position. Here’s hoping that the Administration will indeed “work harder to find administrative solutions to administrative problems.”

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  8. Question: Is it “agreeing to everything the GTFs wanted” if the GTFF wanted full guaranteed two weeks paid leave, the Admins countered with the rescue fund (or whatever it’s called) and the GTFF exec council agreed as long as it was in writing?

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    • uomatters says:

      alright, correction noted

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    • GTF what the what says:

      Also, “agreeing to everything the GTFs wanted” depends on what date … remember the union’s starting position was 6 weeks of leave, and a raise that would get GTFs to cost of living by the end of this contract, not in four years (if GTFs are lucky). The Admin is agreeing to all the concessions the GTFF has made in its effort to avoid a strike. Except oh yeah, they won’t actually write it down. Isn’t a handshake enough?

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  9. UO Grad Student says:

    Is this the “clever” workaround to the C&D sent to admin this morning? They won’t poll employees about intent to strike but they’ll solicit reports from students about which instructors haven’t shown up? And they’ll broadcast the fact that they intend to collect this information to all members of CAS.

    If the admin has truly worked as diligently as they claim to minimize any impact of a strike, why would reporting “missing instructors” matter if not to punish strike participation? I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that this is coercive with the intent to let GTFs know they intend to find out who participated and what kind of “disruption” this caused.

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  10. Jack Straw Man says:

    What it seems like to me is a tacit admission that the admins don’t have nearly enough “volunteers” to check all GTF-administered sections and courses, even though they promised to do that. Given that those “volunteers” were probably going to be (unionized, and traumatized) OAs, I’m not surprised.

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