With the Lecturers’ Employee Organization striking today,
academic life on campus is being disrupted. The LEO strike is
affecting not only lectures but discussions as well. In support of
LEO, many graduate student instructors have decided to cancel their
classes today as well.

Some members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization said
that GEO has decided to back lecturers in the walkout today.
“They’re encouraging us to support (LEO) or stand on
the picket lines,” political science GSI Leanne Powner
said.

The GEO contract specifically prohibits union members from
participating in “work stoppages” such as strikes and
walk outs. GEO President David Dobbie and Rackham student Gabe
Kirchner, a GEO steward, said GEO will not officially endorse the
LEO strike. Kirchner said it was a moral decision for graduate
students whether to support the walk out or not.

English GSI Charlotte Boulay said she supports LEO’s
goals. “I am definitely joining the picket lines, and I would
cancel class if I had one (today),” Boulay said.

Lecturers are not appreciated enough on campus, Boulay said.
“I think the lecturers are a really important part of the
University, and I think they should be compensated for the amazing
work they do,” she added.

Many students also hope that the strike will improve the tension
on campus. “Hopefully this will help resolve the problems
between the lecturers and the University,” LSA sophomore Jane
Dykema said.

But with the end of the semester drawing near, some instructors
said they feel the need to have class.

Despite her support for LEO, English graduate student instructor
Marjorie Rubright has decided to still have class tomorrow. But she
said she will be holding the class off campus.

“As a teacher, I think it is very important that students
have class; as a union member, I think it is essential that the
terms of our contract are met by the University. Because I
don’t know for certain that we will be striking, I have
decided to hold my class off campus tomorrow,” Rubright
said.

Holding classes off campus means students will not be forced to
make a decision whether or not to cross the picket lines, Rudbright
said.

“Some of my students have told me that they felt
uncomfortable about crossing the picket lines and some say they
totally support the lecturers.

I wouldn’t want them to have to go against their own
conscience in order to attend class on campus,” she
added.

Many students have expressed similar views, saying they are
intimidated to attend class on campus today. “I’m glad
actually that they canceled class because it would have been hard
to go to class and cross the picket lines,” Dykema said.

Dykema’s Spanish class was cancelled for today, and her
English class was moved to Amer’s Deli.

Many lecturers and instructors have taken similar measures
— canceling both classes and office hours or moving classes
to off-campus locations.

“I’m not going to the lecture I’m grading for
… I also said if there’s a walkout I’m canceling
my office hours,” Powner said.

Powner is a member of GEO, but said she still supports LEO.

“As somebody who is a year away from entering the job
market myself … I really do need to stand up for these
things and be aware of them,” Powner said.

The two unions are closely related — especially because
many GSIs become lecturers before getting on the tenure track,
Powner said.

College of Engineering Dean Stephen Director sent an e-mail to
all engineering students yesterday afternoon addressing the
cancellation and movement of classes.

According to the e-mail, “The position of the College of
Engineering is that we expect all faculty (including lecturers),
all GSIs and all staff members to be at work on Thursday.

“Classes for Thursday, April 8, have not been cancelled.
All faculty should meet their classes at the regularly scheduled
times and in the regularly scheduled locations.”

— Daily Staff Reporter Mona Rafeeq contributed to this
report.

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