All I have heard about for the last week has been the graduate worker strike. Graduate workers seek union recognition as well as improved benefits and fairness for international students, among others.
As I have walked by the Sample Gates this week, I have seen graduate students waving signs that say “On Strike for Union Recognition” and yelling about how upset they are.
Many graduate students teach or are associate instructors in classes. The graduate workers’ strike can affect the grades of the students in those classes. Depending on how long the strike goes, some classes are modifying finals so students are tested on what they did learn while in class. Others are simply leaving students with their current grades.
On April 12, I got an email from the Spanish department about the situation and what is going to happen if my graduate instructor decides to strike. In the email, it said some of our assignments and quizzes would be excused for as long as the strike lasts and if it lasts through the semester, then the final exam will be modified to only cover days that class was physically held. Every instructor is doing it differently. Some classes still have to do assignments and others don’t, so undergraduates are confused on where to go from here.
I love when classes get canceled as much as the next person, but I still want to be prepared for my finals and pass all of my classes. My Spanish instructor has not participated in the strike because she said she cares about our class. I was glad to hear that because I still have another semester of Spanish I need to take to graduate, and I want to be prepared for it as much as possible.
I’m sure there are other graduate workers who feel the same way my teacher did. People in my class with friends in other sections said a lot of other Spanish classes were either canceled or made asynchronous. That is unfortunate, but I also understand it because graduate workers want to put themselves first.
My Spanish class is not my only class taught by a graduate instructor. All but one of my classes have either a graduate student teaching it or an AI assisting the professor, so I was extremely nervous when I first heard about the graduate worker strike because I thought it would negatively affect my grades.
I understand why the graduate workers are striking, but it should not affect undergraduate students’ ability to learn. Even though having fewer assignments would decrease my stress levels and give me more time to focus on my final projects, I still want to be able to get all remaining class points from upcoming assignments and bring my grades up as much as possible.
Undergraduate students did not have a lot of time to prepare for the strike. It also is unfortunate that this is happening so close to finals and the end of the semester when everyone is already stressed about grades and assignments.
I know graduate workers probably did not want this to negatively affect the undergraduates, but it does affect us.
The university could stop all of this if they gave the graduate workers union recognition. Overall, the situation is causing a lot of chaos with graduate and undergraduate students as well as professors with AIs. And it does not look like the IU administration will be backing down anytime soon, so this might affect next semester, too.
Olivia Franklin (she/her) is a junior studying journalism with a minor in political science. She is a member of the swim club at IU and the Women in Media organization.