We know that there has been some confusion surrounding the end of this quarter, especially now that many university functions are being moved online. Hopefully this email will help clear up much of that uncertainty. Please read all 4 Q&As below so you are fully informed about grade withholding.
The Associate Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Education announced on 3/12 that in light of COVID-19, the Winter quarter grade submission deadline has been extended a week to Tuesday, March 31st at 11:59pm. Shortly after, another email stated that all classes will be online—only through at least the month of April.
1. Should I still withhold final grades in light of coronavirus concerns and the shift to online classes? If I’m on a full strike now, should I also withhold final grades?
- YES! Withholding grades at the end of the quarter is the best way to continue striking despite classes moving online—grades are our “bargaining chips.” Once UC gives us a COLA, then we’ll give them grades.
- Do not enter any grades on GauchoSpace or eGrades. Create an Excel sheet on your personal desktop and keep track of grades there.
- Notify your undergraduate students via email as soon as possible to tell them that you will be withholding final grades. Be sure to attach this grade request chart, this solidarity guide, and this undergraduate grievance survey so they can voice their concerns if needed. Assure your students that you will submit grades, no questions asked, for individuals who need them urgently as outlined in the grade request chart. They do not need to disclose why they need their grade. Talk to your professor/instructor of record to determine which of you undergraduates should email with grade submission requests and communicate that as well.
- You are not alone! Grads across 5 UC campuses are now on either a full strike or a grading strike (Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Davis, San Diego, and Berkeley), and COLA organizing is happening at every UC.
2. How many UCSB grads are on strike? Do UCSB grads support the strike?
- According to preliminary data gathered at the department level, at least 60% of TAs across 25 departments are participating in either a full teaching strike or a grading strike. There are undoubtedly more in departments that haven’t yet reported back. This is more than enough people to cause a major administrative disruption. The same data shows overwhelming support for the UCSB4COLA movement.
3. What about the undergrads that need grades? How could this affect them?
- TAs will submit grades for students in specific situations requiring them. Students do not need to disclose the reason they need their grade—make sure that you have proactively provided them with the grade request chart and then trust them. Unless undergraduates fall into one of these categories, they will not suffer from grades that are not submitted immediately.
- TAs are welcome to communicate grades and feedback to students in person or over UCSB email accounts, just don’t enter them on GauchoSpace or eGrades!!
- As of now, all NG grades are converted to F grades at the end of the following quarter. This means that if grades are not submitted by the end of spring quarter, they will turn into Fs. Our faculty allies are organizing to petition the registrar to change this policy, but if it is not changed, and we are still withholding grades at the end of next quarter, we can decide as a collective to submit grades or continue to withhold them. We will discuss this obstacle if we get to a point where it becomes immediately relevant.
4. What can I do to help in the next two weeks?
- Talk to grads that you know, and especially TAs who may be on the fence about withholding grades—reference this guide to one-on-one strike conversations before your conversations to ensure you are equipped to answer questions and lead a meaningful discussion.
- Talk to (or email) your undergraduate students about COLA and your own experiences trying to survive on low wages in Santa Barbara. Many are not aware of the amount of work their TAs do and how little they are paid. Make sure to communicate clearly with them about withholding grades, how they can request grades if needed, and answer any questions they have (see question 1, second bullet point).
- Talk to faculty who may be sympathetic to striking grads. Faculty allies can further our cause by providing support and some protections against retaliation. If you plan to withhold grades, you will be in charge of grading the finals, and your professor/instructor of record is supportive, reach out to them. You can suggest they give a take-home exam/essay that students email directly to you rather than using GauchoSpace for submission—this prevents circumventing TAs in the grading process. In some situations and classes, this might not be possible, but it is worth asking. Do not enter any grades on GauchoSpace or eGrades.
We will not submit!
Our power is in collective action!