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The University of Michigan Central Student Government hosted Rackham student Jared Eno, president of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, at their General Assembly Meeting Tuesday evening. The meeting, which also saw the discussion of various resolutions and executive nominations, concluded with a statement from CSG that they will draft a resolution reaffirming their support for GEO.
Rising LSA senior Jarek Schmanski, speaker of the 13th assembly, opened the meeting by introducing Eno, who spoke to CSG about his disapproval of the University inputting missing grades on behalf of striking Graduate Student Instructors. In his presentation to the assembly, Eno claimed the University had committed academic misconduct by issuing inaccurate final grades to students.
“Unfortunately, in this past semester, rather than give us a fair contract so that we could complete (grading) as best we could, the University chose a different option, which is to try to power through the end of the semester without its graduate student workers,” Eno said. “This has effectively caused them to create a mass academic scandal, which the media is starting to pick up on. In a lot of cases, this involves falsifying grades.”
In his presentation, Eno said the alleged academic misconduct took on a variety of forms, including revised syllabi and grading by faculty who had little contact with individual students.
“In some cases, the GSI’s portion of the course was simply omitted, which resulted in a grade which deviated from what was supported to be the grade based on syllabus, and in some cases the grades were completely fabricated by someone who was not involved in the course at all,” Eno said. “We’re getting a hold of how this went down, but the scope of this is still becoming clear.”
In emails provided to CSG by Eno, U-M professors alleged that the University was pressuring faculty to input final grades despite concerns that faculty would not be able to accurately evaluate student performance. One professor, Andreas Gailus, chair of the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department, wrote in an email that he would assign an “A” to all students in GSI-led classes.
“I’ve decided that it is time for me to step in and assign grades,” Gailus wrote. “Needless to say that I’m not happy about this solution, but I don’t see a viable alternative, assuming that you (the instructors of record of the department) don’t want to enter the grades yourself. My plan, at the moment, is to give straight “A’s” to all students in GSI-taught classes. I’ll wait until Tuesday to enter the grades. Let me know by then if you see a better solution to the dilemma. I should also mention that the Dean’s office has been putting a lot of pressure since the end of the semester.”
In another email, Professor Vincenzo Binetti, chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, said the department had no other choice but to submit grades despite previously expressing opposition to doing so.
“Since the start of the GEO strike, we have reiterated our position to LSA that it is not appropriate for us to enter grades for striking GSIs,” Binetti wrote. “We remain deeply concerned about the submission of grades for political, academic, and ethical reasons. However, we find ourselves in a situation where we have no alternative choice.”
Eno said the University’s decision to submit final grades on behalf of striking GSIs will have long term consequences for students.
“The issuing of the final grade is an important indicator of how a student did (and) what (they) learned,” Eno said. “This is going to be a problem that plays out over a long period of time, because students may enroll in a class that they’re not prepared for and they’re going to have more difficulty than they expected. This is probably already happening in the spring and summer semesters (and) it’s going to happen in the fall. This is going to be with us for a while unless the University is able to fix this in some way.”
Eno concluded his presentation by calling on CSG to consider passing a resolution condemning the University’s decision to input missing grades.
“We’d like to ask you all to consider a resolution that denounces this academic fraud and calls this out as not the right approach for an administration to take,” Eno said. “Call for a full and independent investigation — independent is really crucial here. Then finally, call on them to give their graduate workers a fair contract. This is a mess, but I’m sure there’s a way where we can figure out the best way to clean this up.”
After Eno’s presentation, CSG heard from Rackham student Michael Mueller, who served as a GSI for MATH 116 in the winter semester. Mueller said although he was the only instructor for his students, they were assigned final grades without his knowledge.
“My students did not receive all “A’s,” but I am not clear on how their grades were assigned,” Mueller said. “I am the only instructor for my students. In class, I give quizzes (and) team homework assignments. I grade those, and no one else has access to those grades. In any case, possibly based on the exam scores, but I’m not clear how, someone entered grades for my students. No GSI or student was told about the details about how grades were released.”
Schmanski thanked both Mueller and Eno for presenting at the meeting and said CSG was working on a resolution to be voted on at the next meeting.
CSG heard committee reports from the Rules Committee, Finance Committee, Resolutions Committee, Communications Committee and Executive Nominations Committee. Rising LSA junior Mario Thaqi, chair of the Finance Committee, provided a report on the Spring Summer 2023 Consolidated Budget Act, which was up for a vote under AR 13-004.
“(The Finance Committee) talked about two resolutions: number one, spring summer budget,” Thaqi said. “I made one amendment that passed, I got some new need-based compensation numbers, so I lowered the number that I originally put and we also had some discussion about the future of the test-prep program, but no amendment was made on that.”
CSG president Meera Herle, rising Public Policy Senior, then provided a report on an upcoming event CSG will host in conjunction with the Spectrum Center.
“On June 20, we’re running an event that we’re cosponsoring with the Spectrum Center,” Herle said. “There will be a celebration element to it, there’s going to be an ice cream social. Also, Spectrum Center does HIV and STI testing for free for students in their office, so we’re coordinating with them and doing a joint ice cream social on Regents Plaza and then HIV and STI testing in their office. The theme of this is dismantling the stigma around HIV and STI testing.”
Schmanski gave a report on vacancies in CSG and initiated a recall vote of Public Health Representative Andrea Kennedy, a rising Public Health senior, which would immediately remove Kennedy from her position. In his justification for the recall vote, Schmanski said Kennedy had failed to demonstrate interest in holding the seat and a new representative was needed to engage with the assembly.
“After the election of Andrea (Kennedy) at our previous meeting two weeks ago, I’ve sent multiple emails to (Kennedy), none of which have been responded to,” Schmanski said. “To my knowledge, there has not been much, if any, demonstrated interest from this representative in holding the current seat. I’m initiating this recall so we can have a vacancy and hopefully fill that with an appointment, and hopefully have a new representative that is actually engaged in the assembly.”
The motion to recall Kennedy passed unanimously.
CSG elected rising LSA junior Noah Rich as chair of student organization funding, rising Public Policy senior Samantha Lang as chair of the Wolverine Consulting Group and rising LSA junior Juliette Quenioux as chief of staff.
The assembly passed AR 13-002, AR 13-003, AR 13-004 and AR 13-005 with unanimous consent. A motion to amend AR 13-004 to reappropriate $10,000 to the Student Organization Funding Committee by Jacob Gabel, recent U-M Engineering alum, failed.
Schmanski closed the meeting by saying he would begin work on a resolution reaffirming CSG’s support of GEO.
“I would love to be able to confer (Eno) and their message into a resolution,” Schmanski said. “Anybody who is interested in working on that resolution, I will start working on a draft later this week, working on some of the action items that they provided in their presentation.”
Daily Staff Reporter Joshua Nicholson can be reached at email@example.com.