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Foto: Jeroen Oerlemans (UvA)

Assignments of hundreds of freshmen not checked due to strike

Henk Strikkers,
28 april 2022 - 09:53

The assignments done by some 600 freshmen in political science in Block 4 have not yet been marked, nor is it clear when they will be. The department e-mailed this to all first-year students. Other departments are also experiencing backlogs.

Later this week the review deadline would expire, says first-year coordinator political science Judith Huigens. “For a long time, we had high hopes that the university and action group Casual UvA, which called the strike, would still come to an agreement.“ They didn't.


Casual UvA called a review strike for Block 4 a few weeks ago. The action group, which stands up for teachers with flexible contracts, wants "systematic overwork and exploitation" to be addressed. They also believe there should be better working conditions for those on temporary contracts.

According to Huigens, using other staff to check the two assignments the freshmen made in Block 4 was not an option. "As far as I know, all, or almost all, of the population of junior teachers are participating. They do about 90 percent of the proofreading. We don't have the staff to handle that. They're at their limit, too.”
Backlog of work
The e-mail to freshmen states that it is not clear when students can expect their grades. This is because Huigens doesn't know if junior lecturers are simply not checking the assignments, or if they are checking them but not recording the grade. "In that case, it could be that there is not necessarily any backlog of work, but we don't know that at the moment."
Stories are also circulating at other departments that everything has been checked, but the grades simply have not been entered into SIS. At Interdisciplinary Social Science and Sociology, for example, students are said to be waiting for exams. As far as Folia can tell, the strike seems to have had a major impact on the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and to a lesser extent on the Science Faculty.

“In the worst case, this interim assignment will not be assessed, and we will have to base the final grade on the final assignment”

Binding study advice
At the moment, Huigens does not expect any consequences for the binding study advice, although “it is on the agenda at every level”. The course will only be completed in Block 5, and we are hopeful that the strikers will review by then. In the worst case, this interim assignment will not be assessed, and we will have to base the final grade on the final assignment. But that is really the worst-case scenario."
Sociology lecturer Alexandra Lopez, a spokesperson for Casual UvA, reveals that she recently met with the UvA administration to discuss the strike. "In the process, we also discussed the new teacher policy that the university is working on. We think there are great opportunities in it but are going to present the policy to our people next Friday."
Escalation or de-escalation
On Friday there will also be a discussion about how to proceed with the strike. For example, will there be no marks given in Block 5 either? "I can neither confirm nor deny that at this time," says Lopez. "This Friday we're going to talk about whether we're going to escalate or de-escalate." What a possible de-escalation scenario looks like and when assignments and exams will be checked is not clear, according to Lopez. "I think that varies from department to department.'"