Central Student Government met on Tuesday evening to discuss the University of Michigan’s decision to end Michigan time, the tradition of starting classes 10 minutes after the hour. Beginning on May 1, classes will start on the hour and end 10 minutes before the next to allow for students to get to back-to-back classes. The assembly also passed resolutions support the demands for more representation by Latinx students, and increased transparency in the Univeristy's endowment investments.
The assembly welcomed Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones, who explained the administration’s reasoning and answered representatives’ questions. Jones said the University’s professional schools, such as the School of Nursing and the Dental School, operate on the hour. Classes that run on Michigan time cannot use rooms in these professional schools because of the difference in start times.
“Other schools could use those classrooms, but they’re hindered from being able to do that currently because if the classes start at 10 after the hour and that room needs to be ready for transition at 10 until the hour,” Jones said. “It’s not possible to schedule them as efficiently as we could.”
Jones noted the University will save on classroom construction, which “dries up tuition,” by standardizing start times across all campuses.
She also said “interdisciplinary” students will benefit from the switch. Jones explained under the current system, a student taking back-to-back LSA and nursing courses has no transition time between classes.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald and Christine Gerdes, Special Counsel to the Provost, reiterated Jones’ points. Fitzgerald, who also visited University Council's meeting Tuesday night, mentioned the importance of communication, saying the administration hopes to keep students up-to-date on the switch from Michigan time using Canvas, social media, posters and student publications.
Multiple representatives raised concerns about the University’s lack of transparency in making the decision to end Michigan time. Jones said she had hoped to speak with CSG before the news broke.
CSG also hosted Architecture students Courtney Klee and Ellis Wills-Begley of the Initiative for Inclusive Design, a project aiming aims to foster dialogue about building accessibility issues. According to Wills-Begley, architecture often discriminates against people with disabilities.
After listening to the guest speakers, CSG moved on to community concerns, executive communications, general updates and resolutions.
Dental student Tommy Vu introduced a reading day resolution also authored by by Public Policy senior Ben Keller, a senior policy advisor. The resolution would block professors from scheduling tests right before or after a school break. Vu said the resolution aims to address mental health concerns.
Abby Richburg, a project leader for CSG’s Mental Health Task Force, updated representatives on the motion to establish a Wellness Zone on North Campus. Richburg reminded the assembly that mental health resources are less accessible to students on North Campus.
“Fifty percent of students overall on campus have been deterred from CAPS resources as a result of the distance from North Campus,” Richburg said.
Richburg noted the project is making progress. The Mental Health Task Force has been gathering student input through focus groups.
CSG voted on several resolutions Tuesday night, including a proposal that would change the University’s academic calendar. According to CSG Vice President Nadine Jawad, the motion would give students additional days off on election day and around the holidays, but school would start before Labor Day.
LSA senior Nicholas Fadanelli, LSA student government president, also spoke on the matter. He said the administration needs to see student support for the proposal before offering its approval. According to surveys, Fadanelli said, many students are in favor of the changes to the academic calendar.
“Overwhelmingly the students say that if they can either get out earlier or maintain having certain days off they would prefer to start before Labor Day,” Fadanelli said.
The academic calendar resolution had already passed through University Council, so representatives could not propose amendments. The resolution passed with 24 in favor and several abstensions.
CSG voted on another resolution requiring drama students to receive consent training. Sierra Stephens, School of Music, Theatre & Dance representative, said she had updated the document with statistics on sexual harassment. The resolution passed unanimously.
The assembly also passed a resolution supporting the list of demands put forth by Latinx student organization La Casa. Intended for University administrators, the list highlights the discrimination that Latinx students face on campus and proposes initiatives to increase inclusion and representation. The motion was tabled after representatives proposed several amendments, then the resolution passed with 25 in favor and one abstention.
Lastly, CSG addressed a resolution advocating for an investigation into conflicts of interest in the University’s endowment. The resolution was proposed after the Detroit Free Press published an article raising questions about the University’s investment in high-level. Chris Olson, an LSA junior in the Roosevelt Institute, spoke on the issue, saying the administration’s behavior warrants investigation, and called for increased oversight of the endowment.
“There’s a larger question here about whether or not they are following the best practices. It doesn’t look like they are in a number of respects and they haven’t been entirely forthcoming,” Olson said.
“The Regents should increase oversight of the investment of the endowment to prevent conflicts of interest and invest the endowment in accordance with best practices,” the resolution reads. “Investments of the endowment and the results of any internal investigation should be made transparent and open to public scrutiny.”
Representatives voiced some concerns about the rationale behind the resolution. After some discussion, the resolution passed narrowly, with 14 in favor, eight against, and four abstentions.