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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met on Monday to discuss methods of encouraging more interaction in meetings, budget concerns and award recipients. SACUA also mentioned possible solutions to the textbook availability problem campus faced at the beginning of the semester.
Members first spoke about ways to improve the structure of meetings. To address comments made in previous Senate Assembly meetings, members considered moving meeting locations to rooms more conducive to interactive discussion. Rooms in Rackham Graduate Building were suggested, which led to a motion to re-examine the committee’s budget.
The discussion then turned to the issue students had buying books at the beginning of the semester, specifically with the relocation of Ulrich’s. SACUA Senate Secretary David Potter, a classical studies professor, believes the University of Michigan needs to handle the textbook availability problem better, as it created difficulties for students.
“We need to discuss the failure of the University to react to changes in the bookstore market; Ulrich’s closed and students were left to find books whatever way they could,” Potter said. “Not having bookstores on campus where students can buy used books is putting our students at a grave disadvantage.”
SACUA Chair Robert Ortega, a professor in the School of Social Work, agreed with Potter and noted the impact the problem had on faculty as well.
“What happens to the faculty is they’re moving forward while students are still trying to get books,” Ortega said. “It’s a dilemma for instructors as well.”
To combat the problem, members mentioned a central location for students to pick up books, focusing more on electronic books and having a library representative talk to the assembly. They also suggested a University-run bookstore to alleviate the issues caused by privately owned bookstores. Students picketed administratrors for a student-run bookstrore through the `70s due to exorbitant textbook costs, but those calls died down as the online market due.
Members moved on to the Faculty Undergraduate Scholarship, which is a $5,000 need-based scholarship given to undergraduate students and that can be can be divided between one or two recipients. This year, Ortega motioned for the award to be given to two students with the money split evenly among them.
SACUA member Dave Wright, an accounting professor in the Ross School of Business, brought up the introduction of a campaign to raise more money for the award, since the committee only grants the scholarship every four years.
“There are three years of students who aren’t eligible for that scholarship,” Wright said. “If we had more money in the pot we could be doing this every year.”
As further support for dividing the award between two students, Ortega mentioned splitting the money would have less of an impact on the winning students’ financial aid. This ushered in further discussion on amending the scholarship. SACUA member Ruth Carlos, a professor in the Medical School, believed the award should not negatively affect a student’s financial aid.
“We’re just substituting one grant for another grant,” Carlos said.