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More than sixty members from the University of Michigan Senate Assembly met via Zoom Monday afternoon to discuss the University’s interim sexual misconduct umbrella policy, University anti-racism measures and relations between the faculty senate and the University administration following the vote of no confidence in University President Mark Schlissel. 

SACUA chair Colleen Conway, professor at the School of Music, Theatre, & Dance, began the meeting with renewed discussions on communication between the faculty senate and the administration. She said, in an effort to improve transparency, Schlissel has increased the time he spends at SACUA meetings and is holding a meeting on Oct. 30 as a follow-up with each faculty member that brought motions against him at the Sept. 16 meeting.

Much of the conversation at the meeting was centered around a charge that called for the formation of an anti-racism committee within the Faculty Senate. The committee, which would consist of a mixture of SACUA members and faculty senate volunteers, originally faced some scrutiny over its similarities with the preexisting Committee for Fairness, Equity and Inclusion. 

“The committee on anti-racism would be much more targeted.” Conway said. “In the charge we tried to really focus on faculty and faculty governance.” 

SACUA member Deirdre Spencer, librarian of history of art at the University’s Fine Arts Library, spoke at length about the new anti-racism policies the University has enacted recently, as well as the role the faculty senate should play in their implementations. 

“Looking at hiring new faculty, evaluating curricula across schools, strengthening professional development opportunities,” Spencer said, “There is a plethora of all kinds of things that our committee could do in the representation of faculty governance in these initiatives.” 

The motion to approve the committee passed unanimously, with 43 members voting in favor. 

The conversation then shifted to rising concerns regarding the University’s interim sexual misconduct umbrella policy, especially surrounding confusion over a request from the Office of the Provost for volunteer advisers to be part of the Title IX procedures. 

Kanakadurga Singer, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and lecturer at the Medical School, brought up concerns from both herself and other members from the AAC about confusion over whether or not these “advisers” would provide support or act as some form of legal counsel. She also brought up concerns over whether or not the advisers needed to consist of faculty, or if the University could hire outside professionals. 

“There is an ask … which puts faculty in the situation as serving as potentially legal counsel,” Singer said. “It’s not clear what qualifications or what training these individuals will have.” 

SACUA leaders said they did not know the answer to this question, but would ask the University administration. 

Contributor George Weykamp can be reached a   

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