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Grade falsification allegations spark review by University of Michigan's accrediting institution

The University of Michigan's union representing graduate employees, GEO, has been on strike since March 29.
A.J. Evans
Michigan Radio
The University of Michigan's union representing graduate employees, GEO, has been on strike since March 29.

The University of Michigan's accreditation is under review by its accrediting institution, after striking graduate employees submitted a complaint.

The Higher Learning Commission said there are "potential concerns" about the University's compliance with criteria for accreditation.

That's because faculty were told to submit winter term grades for all students, even if they were missing information from their graduate students, who have been on strike since March 29.

Amir Fleischmann is with GEO, the union representing graduate student instructors. He spoke at a press conference held in front of the Ruthven Building, prior to the university Regents' public meeting there.

"For classes where a graduate student was the sole instructor, this could only mean completely fabricated grades that are not based on the student's performance in any way," said Fleischman. "It is serious, because it calls into question all grades given out by this institution. Even if your 'A' is real, how can anyone looking at your transcript now know that?"

The university denies those allegations.

A U of M spokesman said the university is confident it has acted ethically, but "we look forward to fully engaging with the Higher Learning Commission's review."

Striking graduate instructors also spoke during the public comment period of the Regents' meeting.

At one point, Regent Michael Behm broke with the university tradition of not responding to public comments, and engaged in a heated argument with the graduate students, telling them their demand for a salary of $38,000 is unreasonable.

Students countered that Behm did not understand the conditions under which graduate employees must work, and that they are simply asking for a living wage that will allow them to afford rent in the same town where they work.

Editor's note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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