GEO says they may face discipline for moving classes online


The Daily Illini Photo File

GEO members strike outside Henry Administration building after not reaching an agreement with the University on Mar. 7, 2018. The organization gets pressured by University for making classes go remote.

By Ashley Gilbert and Willie Cui

The Graduate Employees Organization sent out a press release on Tuesday claiming that the University administration has threatened to discipline graduate workers who move their classes online. 

The GEO claimed that the University is ready to “discipline graduate workers who shifted their modality of instruction online.” 

This pushback from the administration caused graduate student Drew Weiner to resign his position. Weiner was forced to delete a line in his syllabus concerning COVID-19 safety protocols. 

According to the press release, Weiner polled his students and 90% wanted to return online for the time being. 

“As announced to members on Friday, UIUC administration cares so little about worker safety that they are threatening to take legal action against the GEO and are citing a violation of the no strike clause in our contract,” the press release stated. 

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    The GEO has not announced that they are going on strike. Instead, the GEO claimed that they were not withholding their labor but rather “changing its modality.”

    The GEO said it is “unacceptable to hear” that the University is willing to spend time and money on taking legal action against the GEO rather than using those funds to provide N95s and KN95s for students. 

    “If the University can allow for flexibility in modality for severe weather, why not for a deadly pandemic?” said Leslie Owens, GEO co-president and doctoral student.

    At the University senate meeting on Monday, Linda Moorhouse, professor in FAA and chair of the University senate educational policy committee, discussed the steps her committee is taking to address “concerns that we do not have any written campus policies on modality guidelines.”

    “At the end of last semester, I was contacted by a senator with concerns about how we have been shifting through the teaching modalities during the pandemic,” Moorhouse said.

    Moorhouse noted that she’s created a subcommittee within the Educational Policy committee to address these concerns, including looking at “the scope of institutional discretion” in moving classes online and the scope of instructor discretion in moving classes online.

    “I consider these two concerns to be outside any temporary decisions made for the safety of campus, such as last week’s announcement that was the result of the ice and snow that hit our area,” Moorhouse said. “The core of the concerns are not pandemic specific, although they have certainly come to light during this time.”

    Moorhouse also urged those with concerns about the University’s teaching modality guidelines to email her so she can forward them to the Educational Policy committee and the subcommittee.

    “We will be meeting on an ongoing basis, and then we will be sharing all of the input that we have and any communication from EdPol with the senate in a future meeting,” Moorhouse said.

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