Santa Ono sits at the end of a long table, wearing a blue suit and maize tie. Other regents sit on either side of him along the table.
University President Santa Ono speaks at the September 2023 Board of Regents meeting in the Ruthven Building Thursday afternoon. Jenna Hickey/Daily. Buy this photo.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents met in the Alexander G. Ruthven Building Thursday afternoon to discuss an unarmed non-police emergency response program, increasing enrollment at U-M Dearborn and U-M Flint, and the budget for the South 5th Avenue Residential Hall project.

University President Santa Ono began the meeting by acknowledging the recent contract agreement between the Graduate Employees’ Organization and the University, which brought GEO’s five-month strike to an end. As part of the agreement, Ono said he would support the creation of an unarmed non-police emergency response team at the University.

“In connection with our agreement with GEO, I want to state my support for an unarmed non-police emergency response program that is available to members of the University community,” Ono said. “Our next steps will be informed by established and emerging national best practices, including those in higher education, municipalities and a similar program that the city of Ann Arbor is putting into place.”

The board then unanimously approved a budget of $631 million for the construction of the new Central Campus residential complex. The complex will have 2,300 beds and a 900-person dining hall, in addition to geothermal heating and cooling and solar panels, as part of the University’s carbon neutrality goals.

Martino Harmon, vice president for student life, said the residence hall will benefit future students while advancing the University’s sustainability efforts. 

“This vital project will ensure that we meet the needs of the body and will continue to deliver excellent undergraduate experience,” Harmon said. “Generations of future Wolverines will live, learn and grow in these incredible spaces that center on sustainability and community well-being with every aspect of the design.”

The residence hall will be named after E. Royster Harper — a former vice president emerita for student life who worked at the University for more than four decades. It will be the first building at the University named after a Black woman. 

Harmon also updated the board about the reconstruction of the Central Campus Recreation Building, announcing a $20 million gift from the Hadley family to support the project. An action to rename the building the Hadley Family Recreation and Wellbeing Center was passed unanimously.

“(The Hadley family) shared that they firmly believe a healthy balance between mind, body and community fosters success at all levels and are delighted to support that for the next generation and support that goal,” Harmon said. “This gift will have a tremendous impact on access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff for generations to come in recognition of his parents. We’re crossing the border through a new age to build a Hadley Family Recreation and Wellbeing Center.”

During the public comments section, Liz Kennedy, co-director for Care-Based Safety, an unarmed responsive and safety initative, spoke in support of an unarmed emergency response program on campus.

“Many people on campus who experience a crisis must weigh the benefits of calling for help with the risk of discrimination, violence or punishments, being coerced into treatment,” Kennedy said. “Especially if they come from communities disproportionately affected by prisons and policing.”

Renee Curtis, president of the U-M Professional Nurse Council, spoke against the divestment in nursing and outsourcing. 

“We, the University of Michigan Professional Nurses, are here today to speak out publicly against the de-investment in nursing,” Curtis said. “We’ve made great strides together in collective negotiation to address nurses’ working conditions. The most recent actions taken by the University involve outsourcing specialized patients from another facility … which equates to less nurses per shift to care for patients.”

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