As Mahnoor Imran, an undergrad at UofM, put it in the campus paper, our working conditions are an undergrad’s learning conditions. Here’s the full Op-Ed (link to Michigan Daily).
It was a surprise to me and is surely a surprise to so many students every semester, to learn how little involved professors actually are in their courses. Every semester several of my students ask me who will be grading their essays and their exams, with the implied assumption that it will be the professor.
But by and large grad students are responsible for the actual day-to-day work of a course. In any course with GSIs, we are the ones with whom undergrads interact on a daily basis, on whom they depend to get through a given course.
My own teaching style could be characterized as ‘aggressively conversational,’ as in I am aggressive about opening a space for conversation. I make sure my students know I’m there for them permanently, as a resource, a sounding board, a complaint-gatherer. Conversations like these have often turned into a kind of informal therapy session for those students I’ve come to know, and I welcome it. It matters that I set myself out as someone available to them, someone who has been through a great deal, personally and academically, through all of which still I persist, so they can too.
I genuinely hope that those students who have gained so much from me and from most of their other GSIs value our labor for what it is worth and thus demand that their university value us accordingly. Join us on the picket line: sign up for a shift here.
Ps, Separately from the strike, I’m calling for a Neurodiversity Constellation Center based on the results of a survey I conducted informally last fall. Read about it here: Call for a Neurodiversity Constellation Center at University of Michigan
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