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Education

As quarter ends, UCSD students express support for strike, uncertainty about grades

It's the last week of instruction at UC San Diego and, as students hurry to class all over campus, groups of UC academic workers are on strike. Typically they’d be inside classrooms and labs, giving instructions, running discussions, grading papers and preparing students for next week’s finals.

Fourth-year student Kayla Guzman said she didn’t really know how her grades would be affected by the strike because there hasn’t been much clarity. “It is kind of scary," Guzman said. "It sucks that we’re so late in the quarter and everything is up in the air, but, I mean, I’m just going to do the best that I can despite everything."

She said her class experience had been lacking without teaching assistants. "We would love to have our TAs in class with us so we can, you know, ask questions and just get feedback on our assignments," she said. "It definitely is a better learning process when they are there."

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Second-year student Annie Meyer said her education was suffering without the academic workers. "We miss the TAs so much," she said. "They run the UCs. I mean, we are not functioning correctly without them." 

Students KPBS spoke with are supportive of the academic workers and say they should get paid more for the amount of work they do.

"We need them back, but they need to be paid more, and I don’t blame them," Meyer said.

"I do hope that they get the wages that they deserve," Guzman said.

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Udayan Tandon is a Ph.D. student and computer science researcher at UC San Diego. He is among the 48,000 people on strike across the UC systems. He said he empathized with the students, who have worked hard for their grades. "I definitely understand the concerns that some students are feeling," he said, "but, at the same time, I also understand that me and a lot of my colleagues are basically living in poverty and the university at any point has the ability to end that." 

He finds some optimism in the tentative deal that the UC reached with postdoctoral scholars and researchers, because, for those 12,000 workers, the strike could end as early as next week or as soon as they sign their contracts. "Now that that’s out of the way," he said, "we can negotiate everyday and see some movement on our contracts."

UC representatives say negotiations are ongoing and they seek to settle the contracts as soon as possible.