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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met virtually Monday afternoon to discuss important new initiatives such as the Open Mic sessions, the Electronic Meetings and Accessibility Task Force and the One University campaign. 

The meeting began with an overview of the first Open Mic session, a program that allows the Senate Assembly to discuss issues and connect with SACUA in the span of a one-hour time period. There will be five sessions held in November and more scheduled throughout the rest of the academic year. 

MaryJo Banasik, director of the Faculty Senate Office, then moved to talk about the Electronic Meetings and Accessibility Task Force, which will meet biweekly for several months and incorporate members from many different positions. She said the committee will make faculty senate meetings more accessible. 

“And so the purpose of these meetings will be to look at our rules and to develop procedures so that when we’re having meetings and things happen, we have procedures in place to ensure that our meetings are accessible,” Banasik said. “This also includes choosing what software we might use, what process we might follow if someone is unable to vote or if any other issues arise during a meeting, what procedure should we follow.”

SACUA chair Colleen Conway, professor in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, discussed the recent meeting SACUA had with leaders of the Central Student Government. Conway said they encouraged CSG to create resolutions for their concerns, including moving grading procedures for fall 2020 to be like they were in winter 2020 and to put forth a week with no high-stakes assignments due in the absence of Spring Break. 

“I think Annalisa and I felt like (CSG’s concerns) made sense to us, it’s reasonable stuff,” Conway said. “When I went to SRAC (Student Relations Advisory Committee), they agreed that it’s reasonable, although they did tell the students their concern that a macro-level policy for some of those kinds of things may or may not actually be able to go through.” 

Guest speaker Jason Kosnoski, associate professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, discussed the One University campaign and the inequities in regional spending across the three University  campuses. The One University campaign aims to advocate for more equity across the Dearborn and Flint campuses. 

“When you look at the median spending for the three campuses it really becomes clear that there is gross funding inequities,” said Kosnoski. “This is also reflected in the large amount of debt that our students take on, so there is a lot of information that we, at the One University campaign, garnered.”

He explained how the advocacy of the One University program helped to establish some important student services and created major successes, such as University President Mark Schlissel’s promise of $20 million in the next fiscal year toward diversity recruitment and the continuation of the Go Blue Guarantee. 

“We are asking for the Ann Arbor campus to help out students who are the neediest at the other two campuses, primarily to have a Go Blue Guarantee, to start important student services like health care –– we don’t have any student health services on the other two campuses –– legal services and more money towards DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion),” Kosnoski said. 

Kosnoski talked about his efforts to meet with SACUA to have a continued promise from Ann Arbor to help sustain funding for these services and contribute to academic enrichment on the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

“Students are suffering, they need continued financial help and if U of M wants to be a true public university that serves all of the students in Michigan and the diversity of students — racial diversity, economic diversity — then they should definitely make a commitment to doing that,” Kosnoski said.

Daily News Contributor Brooke Halak can be reached at bhalak@umich.edu.

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