GTFF strike affects undergrads as finals week begins

Freshman Mack Veltman has been working on a paper for his journalism class for a month.

However, when Veltman turned the essay in on Wednesday, Dec. 3 after the GTFF strike had begun, his J201 professor announced that the essays would only be graded if the strike ended. For many students, the announcement was a relief. For Veltman, it was a disappointment.

“You’d think, ‘Oh, finals get canceled, that’s awesome,'” Veltman said. “But when you put as much work into it as I did, it’s kind of like slap in the face.”

The essay was to be considered a part of his final, the other part, a scantron test that will not be changed. Veltman was surprised that there wasn’t a back-up plan in place that would ensure that the class’s work was graded without GTFs.

“They told us to write our essays, prepare for our finals. There are plans in place in case the GTFs strike,” Veltman said. “So I assumed that there would be a back-up plan.”

There are backup plans that the university has set into place under the Academic Continuity Plan, but since the strike began there have been cancellations and other disruptions of classes. Many professors are changing components of their finals to make them easier to grade in a GTF’s absence, which affects undergraduates.

University of Oregon Interim President Scott Coltrane said he realizes this is a stressful time, but administration is working diligently to find a solution.

“We realize it’s stressful for students because we want to make sure that they can get the grades that they deserve and are working on different options to make that happen,” Coltrane said.

Veltman is not alone. Freshman Kimaya Duren encountered obstacles without her GTFs in multiple classes as well.

“My psych class was affected because we have three GTFs in that class and they run study groups for the midterm so I wasn’t able to study with them.” Duren said. “(The professor) also had trouble facilitating it because it’s a 300-person class and when you’re taking the midterm, the GTFs walk around and make sure there’s no cheating,”

Duren’s final for her writing class was also affected. The final for the class was to write an essay, but instead, students are to compile a portfolio of all of the assignments they have completed this term.

Coltrane said that there are different solutions for finals within different disciplines.

“It’s not one answer, it’s different for different kinds of classes,” Coltrane said.

While she has not encountered major changes like Duren and Veltman, sophomore Lydia Bales has had one final made optional. If a student wants to improve, he or she can take it, but it is not required.

“I think it’s a good solution but it sucks because we’ve all worked really hard for this class,” Bales said.

Despite the strike’s impact on her finals, Bales doesn’t blame her GTFs for taking action.

“I’m really glad the GTFs are standing up for themselves, but it’s taking a toll on undergraduates and it’s not affecting the higher-ups like I think like they wanted it to,” Bales said.

Duren, however, doesn’t agree with the GTFF in its decision to strike.

“They are affecting the entire student body,” Duren said. “I feel like they’re being a little bit inconsiderate of everyone else.”

According to Veltman, the most important thing to him is the success of his fellow undergraduates.

“I just want the best possible outcome for us students and for the GTFs as well,” Veltman said. “I just hope they come up with a resolution. And quickly.”

Coltrane agrees.

“We’re working on various activities to fill in replacement proctors for exams so that we can make sure that students who have to, or need to, or want to take their final exams can do so,” Coltrane said.

Follow Francesca Fontana on Twitter @francescamarief

Follow Alexandria Cremer on Twitter @Alex_Cremer92

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Francesca Fontana

Francesca Fontana

Francesca is the associate news editor for community news.
She worked as The Register-Guard's 2015 Snowden Intern, and studies journalism and economics.