Team Michigan Engineering –
As I’m sure you are aware at this point, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), the union representing graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants, voted to proceed with a 4-day work stoppage starting Sept 8, and voted Wednesday night to reject a deal from administrators in a general membership meeting. Today, you will hear more from the President and Provost regarding the latest developments in the negotiations.
Here in the College of Engineering, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the impact this action may be having on individuals.
Graduate students are a critical part of our mission and community. They contribute daily as instructors, researchers and faculty collaborators, and their experiences and perspectives are part of what makes our community unique and rich.
Because of this, our Engineering department leaders and individual faculty members took great care during planning for the return to campus in Fall 2020 to ensure that graduate students had a voice in returning to in-person instruction and research. A process was put in place to allow students who felt uncomfortable returning to campus to speak up, and be offered alternatives. To the best of our knowledge, this process has worked well.
We did this because of our commitment to ensuring that all members of our Engineering community can work and learn together in a manner that keeps us safe – something I remain committed to today. I am also committed to ensuring transparency within the College through engaging with everyone. Graduate students and faculty members navigating these uncertain times are not alone – please, reach out to your department leaders and faculty advisors to gain understanding and seek advice.
We are navigating a moment in history when multiple challenges arise from several angles:
- The mental, physical and emotional health of our students, faculty members and staff;
- The great disparities in our society, and the long-standing issues of bias and systemic racism; and
- The countless small decisions each of us as individuals must make about where we go, what we do and who we see – deciding daily how much risk we are willing to take on for ourselves and others.
All these issues have and will continue to culminate in frustrations – frustrations that we as an institution and as leaders must seek to understand and, to the best of our abilities, address. I want to express empathy for every member of our community facing these issues, and promise that within Michigan Engineering, we will continue to take on these challenges, listen to our community and lead with our values.