University Leadership Suggest Using AI to Replace Striking Grad Students

Key Points:

  • The Dean of Arts & Sciences at Boston University suggested using generative AI to replace striking graduate students’ work
  • Recommendation to engage AI tools for feedback and discussion on readings or assignments
  • Faculty member’s surprise and concern over the unconventional suggestion of using AI to replace educators


Boston University’s Dean of Arts & Sciences, Stan Sclaroff, raised eyebrows with a proposal to substitute striking graduate students with generative AI tools, as reported by The Daily Beast. The suggestion was part of a set of ideas aimed at addressing disruptions caused by ongoing protests led by the Boston University Graduate Worker Union (BUGWU).


In a communication to university faculty, Sclaroff recommended exploring innovative methods, including using AI to manage course discussions and provide feedback on assignments. This unconventional proposition sparked controversy amidst the backdrop of BUGWU’s strike, initiated on March 20 to advocate for improved working conditions and compensation in alignment with the rising costs associated with higher education.


While grad student protests are not uncommon across US universities, Boston University’s contemplation of automation as a replacement for striking workers marks a notable departure. The use of AI to replicate the multifaceted roles and expertise of human educators has raised concerns among faculty members, who question the feasibility of delivering a comprehensive educational experience solely through automated means.


One anonymous faculty member described the AI recommendation as surprising and disheartening, emphasizing the irreplaceable value that dedicated professors bring to the academic environment. The faculty member highlighted the potential consequences of relying on automation to fulfill the nuanced responsibilities carried out by educators, suggesting that such initiatives could undermine the quality and integrity of higher education delivery.



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