Regents commend campus response to Shirvell attacks

Chris Ryba/Daily
The Board of Regents gather for their monthly meeting in the Fleming Administration Building on Oct. 14th, 2010. Buy this photo

BY JOSEPH LICHTERMAN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 14, 2010

The University Board of Regents commended the campus community’s response to the recent attacks against Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong at its monthly meeting yesterday.

At the meeting, Regent Julia Darlow (D–Ann Arbor) read a statement on behalf of the regents.

“As the elected governing body of the University of Michigan, we want to express our unequivocal support for the decisive way the University has responded to the unfortunate situation," Darlow said.

While the statement did not specifically mention Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan who has recently spoken out against Armstrong, it indirectly called attention to his acts of discrimination.

“Looking ahead, we will remain ever vigilant to unacceptable displays of intolerance,” she continued. “At the University of Michigan, we often speak of the Michigan Difference, those unique attributes that set us apart. Today, we appreciate the values that are common to all of us.”

Shirvell has gained national attention for his criticism of Armstrong. On his blog, called Chris Armstrong Watch, Shirvell criticized Armstrong for his “radical homosexual agenda.”

Before the University’s Department of Public Safety banned Shirvell from University grounds, Shirvell protested at multiple events that Armstrong attended and spoke against Armstrong during an MSA meeting — calling for the president’s resignation.

In his monthly comments to the regents yesterday, Armstrong thanked the University community for its response.

“The support the University has expressed is incredibly humbling for me and has motivated me to keep moving in my service to the student body,” Armstrong said at yesterday’s meeting. “I would not be here if it were not for the University of Michigan and the reaction the University has taken reignites my faith in this institution.”

In a statement released yesterday, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission — a government body that investigates alleged acts of discrimination — condemned Shirvell for his actions, The Associated Press reported.

In the statement, the MCRC said Shirvell’s "conduct should not be tolerated from anyone, let alone a public official responsible for representing all people equally."

Last month, Armstrong filed a personal protection against Shirvell in a Washtenaw County court. According to an Oct. 13 AnnArbor.com article, Shirvell requested that Judge Nancy Harris recuse herself from the case. Harris’s sister, State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith (D–Salem), has openly criticized Shirvell, and Shirvell alleges that Harris would not be able to objectively rule on the case.

Harris will rule on the personal protection order on Oct. 25.

Regents approve additional $3 million for Crisler Arena renovations

The regents unanimously approved an additional $3 million for renovations to Crisler Arena at their meeting yesterday and authorized the project for bids and awarding of contracts.

At their July meeting, the regents approved a schematic design for the renovations. The project will include numerous structural and safety upgrades for the 43-year-old arena.

The original plan, passed by the regents in January, called for all the seats in the lower bowl of the arena to be replaced, the aisles widened and handrails added in order to make the arena comply with regulations from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The arena’s roof will also be replaced and asbestos will be removed from the building. A new electrical system will be put in place, and the heating and ventilation systems will be replaced.

Safety updates include new fire detection, alarm and suppressions system, a smoke evacuation system and emergency lights.

The plans approved in July also called for the band section to be moved to the north side of the arena and the student section to be relocated to the west side.

The new plan, approved yesterday, calls for the same changes to the upper bowl of the arena.

“Due to the availability of funding and desire to replace all the seating within the arena at this time, the Athletic Department wishes to add $3,000,000 to the project budget so that the full replacement of the upper bowl seating can be included in this project,” Athletic Director David Brandon and Tim Slottow, the University's executive vice president and chief financial officer, wrote in a letter to the regents.

The project is budgeted at $23 million, and construction is expected to be completed in the winter of 2012.

Simpson Circle Parking Structure renovations approved

The regents also unanimously approved renovations to the 35-year-old Simpson Circle Parking Structure on the medical campus at their meeting yesterday.

The renovations will reassign about 470 parking spaces, currently designated to staff, for patient and visitor parking for the new C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

The parking structure will be repainted, directional signs will be added and changes to the entrances and exits of the garage will be made. A new pedestrian bridge connecting the hospital with the parking garage will also be built.

In a letter to the regents, Slottow and Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, wrote that the relocation of staff parking spots will be included in the Parking and Transportation strategic plan. The plan also calls for more commuter parking lots on North Campus.