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Dr. Greg Merritt, senior associate director of University Housing, was indefinitely suspended from his duties at Munger Graduate Residences about a month ago and the University of Michigan has yet to release an official statement regarding the reason his suspension, despite student outcry.
Merritt’s leave came after he decided to honor residents’ nine-month leases, despite the University’s announcement of its plans to change 9-month leases to 12-month leases, according to residents and staff at Munger who attended a town hall meeting for the building on the issue.
This is the first year Munger Graduate Residences have been open to students — the hall finished construction for the 2015-2016 academic year at a cost of $155 million.
Following Merritt’s dismissal, members of the Munger community have taken several actions to express frustration about the decision, including creating a survey disseminated among the building. Results of the survey were shared with The Michigan Daily.
LSA junior Elizabeth Guthrie, a staff member at Munger, wrote in the survey that she was upset with Merritt’s unexplained departure because he was a valuable member to both the Munger community and the campus at large.
“As an undergraduate student who has both worked with Greg in Munger and as a first gen undergraduate who has engaged in meaningful discussions with him at first gen meetings, I feel upset believing that he may not return,” Guthrie wrote. “There is very little context given around his exit; however, I really want to support him in being re-instated.”
Guthrie wasn’t alone in her sentiments: More than 70 people also participated in the survey, most of whom proposed returning Merritt to his position, often writing “#BringGregBack.”
A staff member working at Munger, who requested anonymity due to fear of losing their job, said in an interview that Munger community members are frustrated because no one has been able to reach Merritt and University Housing is instead speaking on his behalf.
“Greg has been the most transparent person I’ve ever met,” the staff member said. “So for him to literally leave without even a goodbye just seems to elicit the fact that this isn’t his decision and this has to do with something larger than what we know about.”
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald declined to respond to questions about Merritt and said the University does not discuss individual personnel matters.
LSA freshman Jovany Flores, a staff member at Munger, said Merritt has been a mentor to him by helping Flores build his resume and find internships.
“Any time I have questions or doubts or really I’m confused about what to do I always go to him,” Flores said.
Munger resident Chiedozie Okafor, a graduate student in both the Ross School of Business and the School of Education, said Munger residents are now uncertain what their living experience will entail with Merritt’s suspension.
“Do I want to stay in the fellowship, do I want to live in Munger, do I want to be a part of this team now? Because I don’t have any sense of where it could go,” Okafor said.
Okafor added that though the Munger living experience has been developed as it has happened during its inaugural year, residents have felt comfortable with not knowing the exact direction because of Merritt.
“With Greg, even though you weren’t sure about the exact direction we were going or we were shifting to, I think a lot of the faith resided that Greg was leading it,” he said. “There was faith in Greg, so we have faith that the intentions were always going to be good no matter where we went.”