A change in a University accounting policy has the Graduate Employees Organization grievance committee members suggesting that their contracts have been violated.
Grievance Committee Chair Alyssa Picard said under their old policy, the College of Literature, Science and the Arts would give departments a number of graduate student instructor spots to fill however they chose.
The new policy provides block grants with which to hire GSIs and allows departments to keep the money they don”t spend on GSI-related expenses.
“It puts the onus on departments to hire the cheapest teachers available,” Picard said. “And if you”re only looking at the cash you”re never going to get to the question of who”s more qualified.”
Picard also addressed the contract violation issue, saying the University changed the funding procedure without notifying the GEO.
University officials said the policy is not what the GEO has portrayed it to be.
“The University and the College of LSA do not agree with the conclusions the GEO has reached about the new policy,” said University spokeswoman Julie Peterson.
The GEO said it plans to request that the University cease implementation of the policy and bargain with them instead.
“If they don”t bargain with us in good faith we”ll file an unfair labor practice complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission,” Picard said.
GEO organizer Mark Dilley said the change in policy will discriminate against many graduate students by favoring in-state GSI applicants and doctoral candidates because they cost less to hire.
“It used to be each department would say how many GSIs they needed. It didn”t matter if they were in-state, candidates or grad students,” Dilley said.
The University does not intend to affect the quality of GSIs, Peterson said.
“This policy is not expected, nor was it designed to reduce the number of GSIs in LSA,” she said.
Dilley said the GEO hopes to talk with University officials before the budgets are completed next fall.
Rackham student Karen Miller said she felt that by enacting the policy, the University wasn”t putting education first.
“We really want the University to prioritize graduate education, all education, over the bottom line and we feel that this is one of the policies the University is putting out that undermines education,” Miller said.
GEO Secretary Nick Syrett said he felt the new policy wouldn”t benefit students because it would give departments an incentive to select less qualified applicants if they were in-state or for another reason would be paid less.
“You shouldn”t be taught by the second best or the third best,” Syrett said.
“You should be taught by the most qualified people out there.”