University of Michigan Condemns Striking Grad Students While Saying Athletes Can't Play

Over the weekend, we pointed out the hypocrisy of University of Michigan president Dr. Mark Schlissel being an alleged impediment to the return of football season, while also holding on-campus classes. Why is it safe for 40,000 students to be on campus, but not for athletes to play sports?

This hypocrisy is further on display in Michigan's response to grad student employees, who announced a strike today, on Labor Day, demanding more Covid-19 safety precautions and transparency about the school's opening plans. You can read their Twitter thread detailing the issues here.

The institutional response from the University of Michigan was not to express empathy with these grad students, but to declare their strike as illegal and in interference with university operations.

“The state of Michigan prohibits public employees from striking,” Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald told the university's student newspaper The Daily in a statement. “GEO’s contract with U-M also prohibits the union and GSIs and GSSAs from taking part in any action or interference with the operations of the university, such as failing to report for duty or the failure to perform their employment duties.”

Yes, it's pretty remarkable and hypocritical that Michigan's policy here is that grad student employees must work, but that it's too unsafe for athletes to play sports this Fall. None of it makes any sense, so to try to figure out congruity would just make us all dizzy. (You can get semantical about Michigan state law if you want here, but these responses don't make sense at all when taken together.)

Last week, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer reversed course and allowed high school football in the state. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Big Ten football, but nothing would surprise us anymore with this story.

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Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.