Even after UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate enacted a contingency plan Nov. 28 to address the disruption caused by the UC-wide academic worker strike, questions surrounding assignment grading remain for faculty and students alike.
The senate’s plan involves potential modifications to final exam formatting and assessments to create more efficient grading without the help of graduate student instructors, or GSIs, as well as an extension of the grade submission deadline to Dec. 31 for faculty, according to Mary Ann Smart, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.
As of press time, these measures are all in effect; however if an agreement is reached and ratified within the next few days and GSIs agree to return to work, then the Academic Senate would “consider whether to make any other changes or recommendations,” Smart noted.
Members of the campus community continue to push for a change to the grading policy, with a recent pro-P/NP policy petition garnering more than 4,000 signatures as of press time. The petition aims to allow students to choose pass/no passing grading for the fall semester grades and to allow P/NP grades to be accepted for major requirements.
However, Smart said that there will be no campus or college-wide move to a blanket P/NP policy. Smart added that the Academic Senate is aware of students’ need to receive letter grades in a timely manner for reasons of financial aid, graduation and certain major admissions and that these letter grades will be received in a timely manner.
“In making decisions about exams and grading for the fall semester, our primary concerns are ensuring that students get grades that reflect their academic performance in good time and managing the well-being and workload of the faculty,” Smart said in an email.
Professors are also handling the change of grading assignments in the absence of GSIs.
Edwin Lin, a continuing lecturer in the sociology department, noted his support for striking workers and students alike.
“My philosophy is to keep things as normal as possible in a way that, in my mind, at least supports the strike,” Lin said. “Part of it feels like there’s a little bit of waiting and figuring out what will happen based on how long it takes, so we’re just keeping everything as normal as possible and then figuring out the grading after the fact.”
Lin said that in theory, the university is able to accept final grades at any time and that deadlines for grading are “arbitrary.” He noted that the biggest problems are set deadlines for scholarships, adding that those awarding scholarships will hopefully have the ability to make adjustments given the strike.
Nonetheless, the absence of GSIs is felt within the classroom.
“Most of it has just been trying to do well and assuring parents and students that education will continue, which I think is true to some degree,” Lin said. “Although, we are at a deficit.”