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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met Monday evening to discuss how the committee responded to campus controversies, as well as review edits made by the University of Michigan’s Dearborn and Flint representatives to a resolution from a previous SACUA meeting on a tri-campus governance investigation requested by UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint.
In response to the recent postings of racially charged flyers around campus, SACUA members said they saw the speed of other student organizations and University representatives’ reactions to the event as a sign that they should examine the efficacy of their own statements and social media strategies.
William Schultz, chair of both SACUA and Senate Assembly, said their recent social media efforts, including a tweet that went out addressing the flyers, were adequate but not fast-paced enough for the student body.
“It would be nice at times if we could speak more quickly,” Schultz said. “We’ve already done a little bit of that through our Twitter account, which did get a fair number of hits. Maybe if we did more, we’d get more hits.”
Prof. Silke-Maria Weineck, LSA representative on the committee, praised Central Student Government’s response to the flyers and set its public statement response times as a goal for SACUA to strive for.
“I brought up the rapid response question (on the agenda),” Weineck said. “What concerned me was that when the story broke in The Washington Post, they mentioned that Central Student Government had issued a statement condemning the posters and flyers. … It took until Friday for our email message to arrive.”
Many members of the committee, noted they were not very fluent with social media lexicon or the scope of Twitter, though they also expressed a desire to learn if it would help decrease the committee’s response time.
Prof. Stefan Szymanski, committee member from the School of Kinesiology, stressed the importance of an effective and consistent plan for social media and suggested that the item be addressed in future meetings of SACUA and the Senate Assembly. Senate Assembly the overall faculty body that meets once a month.
After discussing rapid response, SACUA also talked about a Tri-Campus Governance Resolution written by Prof Lehman, committee member for LSA. Schultz noted that UM-Flint History Prof. John Ellis and Robert Fraser, former SACUA board member and current associate director for graduate programs at UM-Dearborn, came to the SACUA board last week asking for support in developing the “relationship of the faculty as a whole and the regional campuses’ central governments.”
Wright said he saw the resolution as an effort to get the University to strengthen its relationship with UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn, instead of primarily addressing the concerns they originally came to SACUA with about their own campuses. At a previous SACUA meeting, faculty from the Flint campus expressed concerns with the lack of transparancy the administration has with the faculty.
“The two issues are ‘Are their internal faculty governing systems working or dysfunctional?’, then the other issue is the relationship with us, with the Senate Assembly on campus,” Wright said. “If I go back about three different times in their revision, they inserted that second issue to study the relationship with us.”
Lehman said what he heard at the meeting with the petitioners was not all that was reflected in their edits to his resolution.
“When I listened to the guys at Flint around the table, they’re basically saying, ‘We’d like to have some type of an outside look at what’s happening here with fresh pairs of eyes to help us calibrate ourselves, quite frankly, as to whether or not we really are being abused to the degree we think we’re being abused and whether or not the administration is really running counter to the rules,’ ” Lehman said. “That’s what I took out of what they were saying.”
Syzmanski, regardless of how it came to be in the resolution, said he saw the relationship between the three campuses as something worth addressing.
“I don’t think we should preempt the discussion by saying, ‘Well we’re not going to even include this in the resolution,’ ” Syzmanski said. “It should be somewhere in the commission.”