University Regents Mark Bernstein (D–Ann Arbor) and Andrea Newman (R–Ann Arbor) used social media Friday to engage with students and discuss campus issues like college affordability, sexual misconduct on campus and increasing minority enrollment.
Central Student Government hosted a “Twitter Talk” with Bernstein and Newman with LSA senior Cooper Charlton, CSG president, facilitating questions through the hashtag #AskARegent.
During the talk, LSA senior Michael Chrzan asked Bernstein and Newman what role the University plays in helping students at K-12 schools to build a stronger student body. Bernstein said the University should pay less attention to standardized test scores and more to skills that “contribute to society.”
Newman added the University works closely with the Detroit Public Schools and will continue its presence in the city. Recently, many teachers have spoken out against the poor conditions of DPS schools and how they limit K-12 students’ success.
LSA freshman Peter Pujols asked what the regents plan to do to curb the increasing cost of attendance at the University, which experienced a 2.7 percent and 3.7 percent hike in tuition to in-state and out of state students, respectively, for this year. Newman, the only regent to vote in opposition to the hike, said she will continue to do so while asking the University to spend its money wisely.
LSA senior Reid Klootwyk, vice president of LSA Student Government, asked the regents what they thought of improving mental health resources on campus, citing a 20 percent surge in students using resources from the Counseling and Psychological Services at the University. In response, Bernstein said mental health services are essential to the wellbeing of students.
LSA senior Jen Calfas, former editor-in-chief of The Michigan Daily, asked the regents if they would change how the University handles cases involving sexual misconduct. The University is currently under a Title IX investigation for its handling of several sexual misconduct cases, including against of a former kicker for the football team. This year, an annual report from the Office of Institutional Equity showed no increase in the number of investigations the University opened on cases of misconduct, though it reported a rise in misconduct reports overall.
“Complex and Important,” Bernstein said in reply. “Need to balance aggressive enforcement and support vs. due process protections.”
LSA senior Noah Betman asked what the regents’ thoughts were on releasing course evaluations data for students. Though CSG has voiced their opinion in favor of releasing course evaluation data, faculty members on the Senate Advisory Committee for University Affairs voted to delay the process, in October.
Bernstein said though he recognizes the data may be biased, he is in favor of releasing the evaluation data to students.
LSA freshman Ian Lustila asked the regents if race should be a factor in admissions criteria. The University has recently submitted an amicus brief in favor of the use of race in college admissions to the Supreme Court. Race, like several other demographic factors, has been banned in admissions processes for Michigan colleges since 2006.
Bernstein said though using race in admissions is the most “efficient and effective approach,” the University should move beyond Proposal 2 — the statewide ballot proposal that banned race in admissions — to increase diversity.
“Diversity is important and achievable looking ahead,” Newman said.