University of Michigan Graduate Employees’ Organization Strike Phenomenological Interview: Informed Consent Form
Thank you for considering participating in a series of interviews which will help answer the question: HOW DO GEO MEMBERS DESCRIBE THEIR EXPERIENCES OF DIGNITY IN THE ACTION OF STRIKING? This consent form describes the interview component of the research study and provides important information about what you will be asked to do in the study, about the risks and benefits of participating in the study, and about your rights as a research participant.

You will receive no direct benefits from participating in the interview component of this study.

Understand that the potential risks of participating in this study are similar to the inherent risks a graduate student employee may contemplate prior to speaking critically about their department or institution of employ; however, the design of this study mitigates the moderate risk to these vulnerable employees by masking identities of participants and the name of the university.

Taking part in the interview component of this study is completely voluntary. If you agree to participate, you may refuse to answer any question that arises in the interviews. If you agree to participate but change your mind, you may stop participating at any time. If you consent to participate in this study after reading this document, we will schedule three interviews, each lasting up to 90 minutes; I will record the audio of the interviews in order to develop transcripts for analysis; and I will send to you a $100 gift card upon completion of your interview participation.

The interview protocol follows the 4th edition of Irving Seidman's (2013) book, Interviewing as Qualitative Research, and entails a three-interview series in which each session focuses on a different aspect of a participant’s experience of the phenomena of interest: in this case, the experience of dignity in the act of striking. The phenomenological protocol relies on open-ended interviewing, so I do not have a list of questions to ask during the interviews. Instead, I will ask participants to reconstruct stories in order to elicit details of apparent importance in the experiences and meaning-making of participants.

Purpose: The purpose is for participants to reconstruct home, work, and educational experiences in a way that places their union membership and strike participation within the contexts of their own lives leading up to the strike. The focus is on building a sense of meaning in the relevant experiences.
Guiding question: “How did you come to be engaged in a labor strike? Please reconstruct any home, work, or educational experiences you believe led you to this action.”

Purpose: The purpose is for participants to describe the work they do in their roles as either Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) or Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) and to do so in terms of their experience of dignity. Rather than seeking opinion or evaluation of the work or working conditions, participants may reconstruct a “typical” work day, highlighting details of their relationships or interactions with colleagues, students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
Guiding question: “Could you reconstruct a ‘typical’ work day, or related work routines, as they pertain to your role as either GSI or GSSA?”

Purpose: The purpose is for participants to construct their senses of dignity and to describe the ways in which their experiences compare with their expectations. Participants will reflect back on the meaning of their experiences of dignity and to do so in the context of what came before and what is currently happening.
Guiding question: “Given what you have said about your life before you became a union member engaged in a strike, and given what you have said about your experiences in the course of the strike, how do you currently understand your experiences of dignity in that role?”

Prior to each of our three interviews, I will send a framing email that reviews both the purpose and guiding question for each session. You need not prepare in any formal way, but it may be useful to reflect on experiences indicated by the purpose and question of each session. Leading up to the third session, I’ll also include some framing terminology that may help in our final discussion of your experience of dignity.

I can offer to maintain the confidentiality of all data and records associated with your participation in the interview component. To help protect your information (1) I will limit data access to myself and a full-time faculty member at the institution where I am employed as an Adjunct Instructor; (2) I will refer to you by a randomly assigned pseudonym in all recorded interview sessions, ensuring confidentiality will be maintained if I contract with a third-party transcription service; (3) I will continue to use that pseudonym when reporting data in any future publications; (4) I will manage all interview audio and transcripts according to HHS guidelines for data management:
• I will upload audio and transcription files to secure online storage;
• I will delete all unsecured audio files after upload;
• I will maintain the data in that protected environment for 3 years after completion of this research.

If you have questions at any time about any aspect of the study, please don't hesitate to contact me at Please enter your email address below and I will follow-up to schedule interviews. Please also remember to answer “Yes” to the next question, which asks for your consent to participate.

In health and safety,
Jacob A. Bennett, M.F.A., Ph.D.
Email address *
Please check "Yes" if the following are true: "I agree to participate in the interviews as described above. I understand the purpose and nature of the interviews. I understand the benefits and risks of participation and am participating voluntarily." *
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