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Uncertainty continues post-strike as students face fall grade delays

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Unfinalized grades and further related concerns continue to plague many UC Berkeley students in the aftermath of the UC-wide academic worker strike.


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JANUARY 18, 2023

Update 1/24/2023: This article has been updated to reflect information on grades from campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

After a six-week-long, UC-wide academic worker strike, many UC Berkeley students continue to grapple with confusion and uncertainty as some grades from the fall semester have yet to be finalized.

Campus junior transfer student Courtney Morris said one of her professors submitted course grades past the Dec. 31 deadline and assigned blanket grades for assignments completed by students after the start of the strike.

“She just explained that they had not received any communication from the university about it, I liked how straightforward she was about what was happening,” Morris said.

According to Morris, her professor also accommodated students by finalizing grades before the deadline for those who were graduating or required federal funding.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, however, noted that administrators and the Academic Senate provided guidance to department chairs, deans and faculty. Prior to winter break, campus informed lecturers who are part of the UC-AFT union that they could be compensated for covering the grading load of striking graduate student instructors.

More than 95% of undergraduate grades were posted by Jan. 19, according to Gilmore, and instructors were advised to post the outstanding grades by Jan. 23.

Gilmore added that the office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost also informed department chairs and deans in mid-January that some instructors had not submitted grades.

“During the strike, campus leadership advised instructors to prioritize grades for the many students who would need timely grades for a variety of reasons, among them graduation, clearing probationary status, applying to graduate programs, and maintaining NCAA eligibility,” Gilmore said in an email.

Although, Morris noted that her professor was unable to provide letters of recommendation for students from the fall semester. She added that the lack of recommendations is unfortunate for those who put a lot of effort into the class.

Campus freshman Nithya Bantu also experienced a late grade release for one of her classes. Bantu said her professor communicated that the delay was due to conjunction with the GSI strike but did not offer accommodations for those in need of getting their grade sooner.

“The late grades are not personally affecting me to the extent they might be affecting those whose financial aid depends on it, those who need to declare their major, or those who need the grade to graduate,” Bantu said in a text. “I sympathize with those who are going through this time.”

Joanna Reed, a continuing lecturer in the campus department of sociology, noted that she delayed releasing grades for two classes she taught last semester. According to Reed, she was working under the assumption that a return-to-work agreement would be negotiated. Reed said she believed most other lecturers were operating under the same assumption.

After the strike ended, she added, any information they were given from campus was “ambiguous.”

“To me, it seemed like they were putting a lot of pressure on instructors that this was our problem to solve,” Reed said. “I resist that narrative … I felt like they were the ones who really needed to come up with a solution to this problem.”

Gilmore, though, reaffirmed campus’s support to faculty throughout the strike, noting the guidance and “offers of support with grading assistance” provided to instructors.

Reed noted that, in one of her classes, she gave standardized grades for assignments that were turned in. In the other, her five readers agreed to return to work and finalize grading.

Reed felt the administration did not provide her team with sufficient support as grading was being finalized.

“I think my department did a great job of trying to find out what was going on and to communicate that with us,” Reed said. “But at the level of the campus administration and beyond that, it seemed like a complete dropping of the ball. I’m pretty disappointed.”

Isabelle Nunes is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @iznunes.

JANUARY 25, 2023