COLA: Grade Withholding Strike Begins


Jacob Sutherland

Graduate students teaching assistants at UC San Diego joined others throughout the University of California system in withholding grades in support of the Cost-of-Living adjustment movement on Monday, March 9. The strike at UCSD was voted on by members of the COLA UCSD General Assembly during a walk out on Thursday, March 6.

The strike includes participating teaching assistants and academic faculty members withholding future grades from Monday onward. The strike is unique in the sense that it is not sanctioned by a union and it does not as of yet include a picket line.

United Auto Workers 2865, the union which represents UC graduate students, has filed two Unfair Labor Practice charges against the UC in response to the COLA movement on Feb. 27 and March 2. The union will vote on whether or not to have a statewide ULP strike in support of the graduate students in early April.

54 graduate students at UC Santa Cruz were fired following a grade withholding strike last month. As of the time of this article’s publication, those students have not been re-offered their jobs, and the UC Office of the President has not offered to meet any of the graduate students’ demands.

At UCSD, Dean of Undergraduate Education John C. Moore sent out an email to undergraduate academic faculty members outlining reasons that students may require grades that could be withheld by their striking teaching assistants.

“We are especially concerned that if graduate teaching assistants withhold grades, this might disproportionately affect students who may not advocate on their own behalf, including those who are first-generation or belong to other populations traditionally underrepresented in higher education,” Moore wrote in his email.

Courtesy of pay us more ucsc.

COLA UCSD members, however, contend that most undergraduate students do not need their grades in a timely manner. Those who do need their grades in order to receive financial aid, retake a class, or obtain an official transcript are encouraged to contact their teaching assistants immediately. The COLA movement has put together a list of best practices for teaching assistants in regards to grade withholding to ensure that no undergraduate students suffer any consequences as a result of the strike.

Members of COLA UCSD and the broader systemwide COLA movement have asked that both undergraduate students and academic faculty members stand in solidarity with the striking graduate students by getting involved with the movement, signing a Faculty Solidarity Pledge, and putting pressure on the UC administration.

The UCSD administration released an Op-Ed in the UCSD Guardian on Sunday, March 9 expressing support for graduate student teaching assistants at large, but not explicitly supporting the COLA movement.

Several departments, including the UCSD Guardian Editorial Board, have released statements in support of the protesting graduate student teaching assistants.

The UCSD Communication Department released a statement that the department will not retaliate against any graduate student workers who participate in COLA related demonstrations or activities.

The UCSD Visual Arts Department also released a statement in support of the movement. The department condemned the firings of the 54 graduate students at UCSC, and stated that they will “actively resist attempts to eliminate or restrict future teaching appointments for graduate student workers participating in” COLA related activities.

COLA UCSD will hold a town hall to discuss the COLA movement and upcoming actions later tonight at 5pm in the Price Center Forum.

Photo by Joshua Ben-Escher for the UCSD Guardian.

This article is a part of a broader series on the COLA movement. To read our Editorial Board’s statement, click here. Read more of our coverage on the COLA movement below.