Robert Ortega, chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, opened Monday’s meeting by alerting members of the groundbreaking of the new Trotter Multicultural Center and the release of the diversity, equity and inclusion survey results.
The climate survey found 1 in 5 University of Michigan students experienced a discriminatory event during the past year, even though the large majority of students — 72 percent — reported satisfaction with the current campus climate.
Ortega began the meeting by asking members to think deeply about the findings of the survey.
“There’s important differences that we ought to be taking a look at and thinking about what they mean in terms of some of the views that could easily get masked if we’re not thinking about those different voices,” Ortega said.
Some members questioned the survey’s representativeness. SACUA member Neil Marsh said the survey’s randomness was questionable because respondents had to choose to respond.
“Ninety-three percent of the respondents are heterosexual; slightly over half are male,” Ortega said.
Other members, such as mechanical engineering professor Bill Schultz, expressed concerns over the survey’s length and scope.
“Some of it was definitely repetitive, I think just to see if you were paying attention,” Schultz said.
Schultz added the survey was advertised to take 20 minutes, but actually took some people about 50 minutes. He then prompted meeting attendees to raise their hands if they got a survey.
Members were also confused why data collected in Fall of 2016 was being published over a year later.
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion recently announced a new upcoming survey of 5,000 librarians, curators, postdoctoral fellows and house officers at Michigan Medicine. This will be similar to the prior climate surveys sent to students and staff.
In addition earlier this week, students were also sent a second climate survey.
SACUA members later spoke about the new Trotter Multicultural Center’s groundbreaking. Construction on the future site began over the summer outside the Helen Newberry and Betsy Barbour residences on State Street.
The Trotter Center is currently located in an old fraternity house on Washtenaw Avenue. In Winter 2014, the Black Student Union called for the relocation of the site as part of the #BBUM movement.
Dec. 17, 2016, the University's Board of Regents approved a proposal to relocate the Trotter Center. Following that meeting, E. Royster Harper, Director of student life, said the new location was chosen to make the Trotter Center more visible.
It was not until April 2017, the Board of Regents granted final approval to issue the contracts and bids to begin construction.
The new center will be 20,000-square-feet, approximately 9,000 feet larger than the current facilities, it is set to open Winter 2019.
“My understanding is that it’s going to be the new Trotter house,” Ortega said. “I’ve gotten different versions of what’s going to happen. I don’t know if anyone else has heard anything.”
At the time of the meeting, some SACUA members had not seen design plans for the new building.
SACUA then went into executive session, which The Michigan Daily is not permitted to attend.