More classes might be offered only early Friday morning next semester — and it is no accident.
University Provost Martha Pollack presented two key issues Monday for the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs' consideration: diversity and student drinking. One suggestion SACUA members made in regard to quelling campus drinking involved increasing the number of large enrollment classes on Friday mornings, in addition to encouraging faculty to give short talks about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption in class.
Pollack said she could not initiate that kind of suggestion, but noted she would be open to the idea.
On the topic of quelling excessive student drinking, Pollack said faculty involvement could play an important role.
Art & Design Prof. Anne Mondro, a SACUA member, said it might be helpful if faculty suggested dry events to students in class.
“Let us say, ‘Hey, here’s a whole list of other events that are happening.’ ” she said.
Greek and Latin Prof. David Potter, a SACUA member, said the solution must involve changing the school’s image and culture.
“One of the difficulties is that students come here with the expectation of partying,” Potter said. “They’re told this is a four-day school.”
Before classes commenced last week, the University rolled out a package of new initiatives designed to combat drinking on campus. Central to that effort is a plan to alert the parents of first-year students who incur a second violation of the University’s alcohol policies. The University’s Division of Public Safety and Security also plans to increase engagement efforts in off-campus neighborhoods.
Citing current work to develop a campus-wide diversity initiative, Pollack asked members of SACUA to consider how the faculty governance could be involved with the ongoing planning process.
Last week, University President Mark Schlissel said the University would finalize a campus-wide strategic diversity plan by the end of the school year. For now, Schlissel said individual University units and departments would play a role in suggesting policy changes or new initiatives designed to improve equity and inclusion at the University — a process in which faculty are expected to play a key role.
Kinesiology Prof. Stefan Szymanski, a SACUA member, suggested the University improve its outreach efforts in Detroit.
“Walking down Woodward Avenue there’s a wonderful building with MSU slogans everywhere and big bold letters everywhere, and then we have a little building with little block 'M's and it just seemed very striking,” he said.
While Pollack acknowledged that the University needs to continue to expand its presence in Detroit, she also noted the University programs already in place with that aim.
She said a recent survey indicated the University has more than 300 research, outreach and service initiatives active in Detroit. Among them is the University’s Detroit Center, which assists local students in completing college application and FAFSA forms.
SACUA member Angela Fagerlin, associate professor of internal medicine, questioned how the University was planning to help students from under-resourced high schools adjust to the University’s level of rigor.
“(They) don’t know how to interact with the system as well so they get lost here among the other 40,000 kids,” Fagerlin said.
While Pollack said the University is continuing to develop initiatives to address this issue, she pointed to the University’s high graduation rate as evidence that many students are successful here no matter their background.
The next SACUA meeting will take place Sept. 21.
Correction appended: The above article has been edited to reflect that Pollack did not initiate the idea to offer more Friday classes. The idea was suggested by members of SACUA.