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November 16, 1998


Re: The issue of teaching-assistant unionization

Dear Campus Colleagues:

Educating and supporting our students is a fundamental priority for all of us. How we teach, what we teach and how we share those responsibilities are issues at the core of our institutional identity and governance. Fostering the collegial climate that generally characterizes our campus community is an important value, one that supports high quality education for our students and an agreeable quality of life for all of us.

With those priorities in mind, I want to express my hopes for the way our campus will direct its future, especially with regard to the question of unionization of graduate students. That controversial issue is under legal review at this time. State law and ruling of the courts have been conflicting, and the University is currently evaluating its options. One thing, however, is clear: misinformation to the contrary, no individual chancellor has the prerogative to recognize a student union or any other union.

Still, regardless of the final resolution, I am concerned about how this process may affect our campus. Rather than waiting for the completion of what may be a very long legal action, I urge our students and faculty to address the fundamental aspects of this issue. In the spirit of open inquiry, I encourage productive discussion about the concerns of both students and faculty. I sincerely hope that UC Santa Cruz will distinguish itself by engaging in reasonable discourse about the matter--just as it has in the past on other controversial issues. Frank and informed discussion, not rhetoric, should prevail, and positive resolution of the issues, regardless of whether or not there is a union, should be our goal.

Even so, it is possible that there will be a "walk-out" of TAs some time soon. If that occurs, UCSC must meet its obligations to undergraduate instruction. If it becomes necessary, information about how we will maintain undergraduate instruction and campus operation will be announced via the campus's normal internal communications channels--by the administrative email tree; the UCSC internal home page at www.ucsc.edu; the telephone message line 459-INFO; and KZSC Radio 88.1 FM.

As a former Dean of Graduate Studies, I have special appreciation and very deep regard for the concerns of graduate students, and as a professor, I similarly understand the needs of undergraduates. I sympathize with the conflicted position that some faculty and students may be experiencing, and I encourage you to sustain your focus on our shared value, the education of our students.

M.R.C. Greenwood

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