Fall grades: information and resources

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Background and Frequently Asked Questions

Some UC Santa Cruz graduate students have said they will not turn in fall quarter grades unless the campus acts to reopen contract negotiations. While we sympathize with the concerns raised by the students, labor law prohibits the campus from direct dealing in a contract negotiated at the system level.More importantly, we are committed to ensuring that this unsanctioned work stoppage does not impede our undergraduate students’ academic progress at UC Santa Cruz.

Questions: Student impacts

What impact is the grade strike having on UCSC’s undergraduate students?

It has been said that the grade strike is a “victimless” action. However, when students do not have grades, it can have a profound, and perhaps unexpected, impact on student success including:

Loss of Financial Aid

The Department of Education (DOE) requires verification of student academic progress. If the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office’s (FASO) cannot verify a student’s eligibility, financial aid must be adjusted (decreased) and funds returned leaving students responsible for the difference. Moreover, while the FASO will make all attempts to reinstate a financial aid award once the grades are submitted, in some cases, depending on individual factors including the type of aid involved, the reduction in aid may be irreversible.

Enrollment Difficulties

Missing grades, and the resulting lack of credits, can impact a student’s prerequisites, academic standing, and even their ability to enroll in a course restricted to their class level (i.e., senior seminar). Likewise, a lack of credits—resulting from missing grades—can impact a student’s position during enrollment possibly impacting their ability to get into more popular classes.

Ability to Apply for Graduation

Without grades, some students may not be able to successfully apply for graduation. The Office of the Registrar may not be able to grant a degree for a student who is missing a grade. Additionally, missing grades prohibit the determination of whether a student qualifies for any academic honors.

Ability to Declare a Major

Students with missing grades may not be able to declare a major by the February 7 deadline.

Timely Transcript Receipt

Without grades, the Office of the Registrar will be unable to provide a complete transcript which may impact applications to transfer, graduate school, external programs or external scholarships.

What happens if some students still don’t have final grades after Feb. 2?

Campus leaders sincerely hope that all grades will be in by the Feb. 2 deadline. When students do not have grades, it can have a profound impact on their financial aid; their ability to enroll in classes they need; to apply for graduation; or even declare a major. Likewise, it can impact legal reporting requirements of UCSC’s undocumented students, veterans, and those under academic review.

Will the administration assign grades to students who are missing theirs?

Campus administration cannot assign grades; grades are final when faculty submit grades on MyUCSC. The campus has asked department or program chairs to make themselves available to instructors to help them make decisions regarding final grade assignments and address situations that may impede the submission of grades.

How will final grades be determined?

Students should reach out to their instructor to understand any changes or adjustments in the determination of final grades. The campus has asked chairs to make themselves available to instructors to help them make decisions regarding final grade assignments and address situations that may impede the submission of grades.

Will students receive an “incomplete” grade even if they completed the work?

No. Incomplete grades should only be assigned by the instructor of record when requested by the student, and when the student has completed work of passing quality, but the student’s work is not yet complete.

What are the options for managing the assignment of the final grade?

The campus has asked department or program chairs to make themselves available to instructors to help them make decisions regarding final grade assignments and address situations that may impede the submission of grades.

Should instructors enter an incomplete (I) for missing or delayed grades?

No. Grades of incomplete (I) should not be used as a substitute for grades that are delayed by the illegal work stoppage. In accordance with Senate regulations, incomplete grades should only be assigned when individually requested by the student, and when the student has completed work of passing quality, but the student’s work is not yet complete. An incomplete, as a grade, will cause the student to be dropped from any future courses that require completion of the class as a prerequisite. While advocated by the wildcat strike leaders, incomplete grades should not be assigned unless the normal requirements for assigning an incomplete are met.

What if a student was planning to graduate fall quarter?

The degrees for students who applied to graduate in fall quarter will still be processed for fall 2019. The campus will work quickly to process graduation applications once all grades are reported.


What is a "wildcat" strike?

UC Santa Cruz graduate students employed as academic student employees are currently represented by the United Autoworkers and under a contract that was ratified in 2018.

The University of California’s collective bargaining agreement governs the terms and conditions of employment for readers, tutors, teaching assistants, and graduate student instructors. This contract, including its rights and obligations, applies if a graduate student has an active appointment in one of these positions.

Under the terms of that agreement, academic student employees cannot engage in any strikes, work stoppages, interruptions of work, or any activity that directly or indirectly interferes with university operations while a contract is in place. Withholding grades is direct interference with the university’s operations and a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

When a group of employees represented by a union defies that union and stages an unauthorized strike, it is known as a “wildcat strike.”

Why didn’t the university meet with the striking graduate students?

The grade strike is unsanctioned by their union and the striking graduate students are working outside of the union in making demands of the University. Labor law prohibits this direct dealing between employees and their employer, which excludes employees’ lawfully recognized union. The University has responded to striking graduate students explaining this issue.

Can local UAW leaders negotiate for graduate students across the system?

No, the local UC Santa Cruz UAW representative is not authorized to negotiate on behalf of all graduate students in the collective bargaining process or for employees who are not members of UAW. The University of California negotiated a systemwide contract with UAW 2865, a contract which spans the UC campuses across the state. To discuss terms and conditions of employment, our campus must work through and with the systemwide UAW 2865 organization; this is true even if our campus did not vote to ratify the agreement. Additionally, this contract applies to readers, tutors, teaching assistants and graduate student instructors — not all graduate students.

How much do graduate students currently earn?

Graduate students in doctoral and MFA programs are supported through fellowships, research and teaching assistantships. Graduate student teaching assistants receive a compensation package for their 50% time appointment that includes tuition remission, an annual 3% salary increase, and benefits including health insurance and reimbursement of child care expenses.

In terms of the general number for graduate student support (in this instance, accepted offers), of the >350 students who accepted our doctoral offers last year, their average offers (all things included—stipend, fees, tuition, GSHIP) was over $43,000.

Highlights of the 2018–2022 UAW contract agreement with academic student employees includes:

  • Wages: Annual wage increases of 3 percent for the next four years, beginning Oct. 1, 2018.
  • Child care: A child care subsidy of $3,300/year ($1100 per quarter/$1650 per semester).
  • Fees: Effective Jan. 1, 2019, $300 per academic year for campus fee remission ($100 per quarter; $150 per semester). This is a new benefit for ASEs.
  • Sexual Harassment: Establishing a joint labor-management committee to address sexual harassment issues and training, and give ASEs a voice on this important issue.

The graduate students requested a Cost of Living Adjustment of $1412/month. Is this the amount that you will be providing as part of the housing funds?

UC Santa Cruz is in no position and has no authority to separately change an already agreed-upon, system-wide labor contract with the UAW.

The solution to the housing crisis is to build more housing. However, until more graduate-level student housing becomes available, UC Santa Cruz is instituting a need-based annual housing supplement of $2,500 for doctoral and MFA students in good standing, offered through Financial Aid in partnership with the Graduate Division

Why is the university taking disciplinary action?

The university is committed to ensuring that all people may exercise the constitutionally protected rights of free expression, speech, and assembly. The right of free speech in a university includes the right to acts of peaceful dissent, protests in peaceable assembly, and orderly demonstrations.

It is important to know that these rights are subject to restrictions based on time, place, and manner rules, and a violation of these rules may lead to discipline. For example, UC policy does not allow expressive activity to disrupt the regular and essential operations of the university, such as our ability to offer classes, administer exams, carry on research, or run the university in general, or block or impede ingress to or egress from the campus or buildings.