Michigan Engineering undergraduate students:
The first two weeks of classes have come to a close, but not without some bumps along the way. Many of you may be wondering what this week’s events mean, and how they will impact your studies.
The rest of this email summarizes some of the facts around the GEO strike, and provides links to resources for you to be academically successful:
- If your classes are impacted by the strike
- If you need additional tutoring help
- If you need spaces to study
- If you need to talk with someone about getting support
Please know you are not alone as you navigate these difficulties. We want to hear about your experiences. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey about how your semester is going, any persistent needs, and additional concerns.
The events of this week, and all of the issues related to reopening the campus during the pandemic, have and will continue to culminate in frustrations. We want to hear and understand these issues and, to the best of our abilities, address them. Within Michigan Engineering, our promise to you is that we will continue to take on these challenges, listen to our community and lead with our values.
Joanna Millunchick, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Mary-Ann Mycek, Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Education
Jeanne Murabito, Executive Director for Student Affairs
The GEO Strike
As we’re sure most of you are aware, 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.
Here in the College of Engineering, graduate students are a critical part of our mission and community. They contribute daily, and their experiences and perspectives are part of what makes our community unique and rich. This is why we in Engineering took great care during planning for Fall 2020 to ensure they had a voice in returning to in-person instruction and research. Additionally, many student ideas were captured and deployed through the COVID Campus Challenge, including issues around food security, mental health and academic support.
The University has a long and celebrated history of its community members standing up for what they believe in, and for many, student activism is an important component of the Michigan experience. Currently, the University is negotiating in good faith despite the fact that GEO signed a contract in April with a provision that prohibits it from taking part in any action against or interference with the operations of the University, and that many of GEO’s stated issues are unrelated to contract negotiations.
However, some of the issues they raise are those that many care deeply about, and that our society is grappling with. We want to express our empathy for every member of our community as we navigate a moment in history when multiple challenges arise from several angles.
Getting Help: Academic and Emotional Support
We realize that this action is causing additional disruption, and is coming at a time when we are already tackling an unprecedented semester rife with difficulties. We want to express our sympathy for students impacted by this, and gratitude for our faculty and others who are working quickly to provide alternative instructional mechanisms.
The University is committed to remaining fully operational, and we are working quickly to minimize disruption of engineering classes. You may also experience disruptions in your courses hosted by other schools and colleges, such as your math, language or other required electives. While we are not able to address those classes specifically, please know we are working with our colleagues to identify issues and minimize disruptions as much as possible.
If your class is canceled without alternative arrangements provided, please reach out for help:
- Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
- Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Education
- Your academic advisor within your department or the Engineering Advising Center
Here are some academic resources to get you through:
- Engineering Learning Center
- Supplemental Instruction sessions led by senior students will begin this Sunday for a number of foundational courses.
- Individual tutoring is also available at no charge.
- Science Learning Center
- Offers peer study groups and drop in tutoring sessions
- Math Lab
- Added faculty and student instructors in light of the strike.
Having a place to study, eat, or take an online class in a quiet location has been a priority in our planning. There is plenty of space for you to study both on central and north campus:
- 13 Outdoor canopies were installed around campus.
- A new Study Space finder tool has been deployed to allow students to reserve study space up to a week in advance that includes computing stations, tables and study rooms.
- Cafes, markets and restaurants are open throughout campus
- Bus routes around and between campuses have been changed to support more frequent buses and better social distancing.
Please do not hesitate to reach out as you encounter difficulties, either physical, financial, emotional or connecting with your peers. There are many resources available to you here at the College:
- The College’s C.A.R.E. Center
- The Office of Student Affairs
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Joanna Mirecki Millunchick
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Education
Executive Director, Office of Student Affairs