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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met in a virtual format Monday afternoon to discuss the University’s transition to its “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 2.0” initiative and methods to strengthen the University’s broader antiracism commitments. 

Engineering associate professor Allen Liu announced that SACUA is co-sponsoring a faculty community conversation next week about the University’s transition to its DEI 2.0 initiative. The event will be hosted in collaboration with the University’s Office of DEI and will be moderated by Liu. The DEI office has already hosted two student community conversations on the subject and plans to hold one for staff as well. 

This academic year marked the final year in the University’s five-year strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion, now known as “DEI 1.0.” The University will now enter an evaluation period, from which findings will be shared in the coming fall at the annual DEI summit. The information presented at the summit will be used in a year-long planning phase for DEI 2.0, a second five-year initiative set to launch in the fall of 2023. 

Deirdre Spencer, a librarian at the University and the chair of the Senate Committee on Anti-Racism (CAR), provided an update on CAR’s work. Spencer discussed a proposed resolution calling on the University to explicitly acknowledge the recent rise in anti-Asian racism and to reaffirm and strengthen its commitments to antiracism overall.

In an email to The Michigan Daily, Liu said the resolution aims to help address concerns brought up by faculty last fall over the impact of the China Initiative, a 2018 U.S. Department of Justice program developed to protect American research from foreign espionage by targeting, investigating and prosecuting Chinese researchers for suspected breaches of “research integrity.” The program was criticized for being ineffective and creating legalized racial profiling against Chinese researchers. The Justice Department announced the formal end of the China Initiative in February. 

“The end of (the) China Initiative is more recent, but the issues that were brought up … started last fall,” Liu wrote. “The Association of Chinese Professor(s) did a survey in summer 2021 and used the data for subsequent meetings with administration.”

The study cited by Liu found that 42% of Chinese faculty at the University worried the institution would not protect or defend them against federal investigations carried out under the China Initiative, and 71% felt their concerns were “largely invisible” to U-M administrators.

Spencer said the impact of the China Initiative on academics is a reason for the University to explicitly voice its support for the Chinese community and the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as a whole. 

“It seemed like many people of Chinese descent had been targeted by the federal government in terms of research, the thought being that they were stealing American research ideas,” Spencer said. “From what we gathered through CAR, people who even worked with Chinese researchers were also targeted.”

The assembly discussed revisions to the resolution, which will be revised by CAR and put to a vote in a future meeting. 

Daily Summer News Editor Samantha Rich can be reached at sammrich@umich.edu