Sixteen Graduate Student Instructors from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning have filed a grievance against the University concerning the number of hours they work.
In their grievance, filed under the Graduate Employees Organization, the GSIs said they are required to do too much work in the time they are paid to work and to remedy the problem the University administration should hire more GSIs.
In a letter to the GEO, replying to the second step of the grievance procedure, Architecture chairman Brian Carter said he had spoken with professors involved in the grievance, who have agreed to limit the remaining hours the GSIs will work in the courses.
“The remedy for the situation has been that they were told to cut down on their hours. That”s not feasible,” said Architecture graduate student June Komisar.
The grievance is specific to one course, Architecture 316, but GSIs and students contend that this grievance will affect all classes at the University.
“It”s kind of like they are ignoring the fact that this is a chronic thing. This isn”t a one-semester problem,” said Architecture senior Kristi Kozubal. “I think they”re looking for a simple solution. What really needs to change is the class size and the number of hours.”
Yesterday, GSIs met with Architecture Dean Douglas Kelbaugh and Assistant Dean Melissa Harris to discuss the grievances and procedures taken thus far.
Kelbaugh said the GSIs and the administration had an open and constructive meeting, but the College of Architecture and Urban Planning cannot comment on the content of the meeting, as the University”s grievance meetings are confidential.
Architecture senior Adrianna Jordan said she respects the GSIs who have filed the grievance standing up for their rights.
“They are putting their names on the lines for future generations of GSIs,” Jordan said.
Annette Wilson, a graduate architecture student, said she has seen this problem throughout her career at the University.
“I”ve been here since 1996. This has been a constant problem. It”s a problem that the administration has known about, but since nobody has filed a grievance until now, the administration has ignored it,” Wilson said.
Architecture GSI Al Weisz agreed with Wilson.
“This has been going on for years. None of the GSIs knew. Contract? What”s a contract?” Weisz said.
Wilson said GSIs are afraid to file grievances because they are afraid to have their name on a “bad” list and because some professors they work under are also administrators.
Architecture GSI Alex Briseno says the GSIs are given a set amount of work to do and there is no way to cut back the time they spend if they are expected to do the work.
“It”s a structural problem. We tried to figure a way to cut hours, but the amount of work to prepare, to grade exceeds the amount of time we have,” Briseno said.
Briseno said that due to the small amount of time he spends helping students, many students have begun approaching top students for help. Architecture senior Mara Braspenninx said students who cannot get enough help from GSIs have come to her for help.
“I don”t feel that I”m qualified to answer questions other students have for me,” Braspenninx said.
Braspenninx said she has some stock in what comes of this grievance.
“I”m graduating and I”ve applied to the graduate program. I”d like to be a GSI so it”s relevant to me,” Braspenninx said.
Architecture GSI Yumiko Aoki agreed that students are not getting the help they need to learn from their homework.
“We can”t go over our limit (of hours) now. I have to say, “Go ask your friends first,”” Aoki said.
When filing a grievance with the University, four steps must be taken. The first is speaking with a professor, the second is filing a written complaint with the chair of the department, the third is a written complaint to the dean of the college and the fourth is bringing the complaint to the Senate Advisory Council for University Affairs and the Administration. The Architecture GSI”s are currently on the third step.