October 5, 2021

Welcome to this week of The University Insider. We hope you have settled back in after a stressful weekend

This week, a ‘mitigated’ shooting threat rattles the University community, the University gets a funding boost in this year’s state budget and a Daily columnist calls for professors to continue offering virtual options after the pandemic has fully subsided.

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FBI says individual responsible for ‘mitigated’ shooting threat to UMich campus not in custody, is cooperating with authorities

This weekend, a shooting threat made on Russian confession website Sinn List surfaced, prompting an investigation by the Division of Public Safety and Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation. DPSS and FBI officials announced the threat had been “mitigated” on Saturday, after the FBI’s Baltimore field office determined the suspect had “neither the means nor the opportunity to carry out the threat.” While the suspect was not taken into custody, University President Mark Schlissel announced the University would continue with classes as usual on Monday.

Despite assurances from U-M and law enforcement officials that there was no threat on Monday, several professors moved classes online, and students filed petitions asking administrators to move the remainder of the classes online. 

There were false reports of shots fired Monday in the White Building at U-M Flint at approximately 9:38 a.m. Flint DPSS officials sent an all clear to the campus at 9:50 a.m, saying they had determined no shots were in fact fired. The remainder of Monday proceeded without incident. Faculty and staff on all three campuses can contact the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office for a referral to a local counselor; Michigan Medicine employees can contact the Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience

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Whitmer signs state budget, giving all 3 UMich campuses a funding boost

This fiscal year, Michigan universities will see a one-time bump in funding thanks to the budget Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Wednesday. The spending package includes a 5% increase for Michigan’s 15 public universities, including $326.3 million for the Ann Arbor campus and $24.2 million and $26.6 million for the Flint and Dearborn campuses, respectively. The budget also imposes some restrictions on universities that receive the funding including a cap on in-state tuition growth and a requirement that students be allowed religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Courtesy of Navya Gupta.

City Council looks to mandate energy and water benchmarking for city buildings

At their Monday meeting, Ann Arbor’s city council took a step towards requiring owners of large Ann Arbor buildings to report their energy and water usage in an effort to encourage them to reduce their emissions. By Dec. 2021, all city-owned buildings will begin benchmarking, with private buildings beginning the practice in three phases starting in June 2022. State and federal buildings, including those at the University of Michigan, are exempt, though the University already benchmarks its properties.

Parents of Ann Arbor Public Schools are calling on the school leaders to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for its employees. Sophia Afendoulis/Daily. Buy this photo.

Some parents call on AAPS to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for employees

Ann Arbor Public Schools parents are calling on the district to go further and mandate vaccines for its employees. Currently, AAPS has what it calls among the most stringent policies for a public school district in the state, requiring unvaccinated employees to receive weekly testing for COVID-19. Some parents argue that is not enough and are demanding the district begin requiring employees to be vaccinated. Superintendent Jeanice Swift insisted the district is taking steps to encourage more employees to become vaccinated but stopped short of promising a mandate. The federal government’s OSHA guidelines on vaccinations, announced Sept. 28, closely mirror the school district’s existing vaccine regulations.

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Looking for a COVID vaccine booster shot? This Ann Arbor location is giving third doses

The Washtenaw County Health Department is offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals at its headquarters at 555 Towner St in Ypsilanti 

  • Every Tuesday to Friday in October: Tuesday, Oct. 5 to Friday, Oct. 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Shots are also available at select Walgreens locations in Michigan and for immunocompromised patients with Michigan Medicine.

Michigan defeats Wisconsin, 38-17, in signature road win

After struggling against Rutgers in week 4, the Wolverines roared back on the road against Wisconsin, landing a signature win and Coach Jim Harbaugh’s first victory as an underdog. Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis pursued a more balanced attack, allowing quarterback Cade McNamara to demonstrate his passing prowess, gaining 18 completions for 253 yards in the air. The Wolverine defense also shone, pressuring Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz, who was knocked out of the game following a sack from Michigan safety Daxton Hill. While Wisconsin has proven to be less formidable than in years past, Saturday marked a turning point for a Michigan program that has been marked by failure against good teams in years past.

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Accessibility in inaccessible times

Daily columnist Siddharth Parmar calls on professors to offer virtual class options to relieve student stress. The column discusses the spike in cases of both COVID-19 and other illnesses such as RSV at the beginning of the semester and how students would come to class even while symptomatic or at high risk for exposure simply because their professors required it. Parmar points to the relative success of a year and a half of virtual learning, saying while the instructional mode was not perfect, it can still provide much needed flexibility and improve the overall student experience.ac

As of Monday evening, 96% of students are fully vaccinated (with another 1% partially vaccinated and 2% exempt) along with 96% of faculty and 86% of staff, bringing the employee vaccination rate to 87%. Two percent of employees have received an exemption, <.5% are in progress and 11% have either rejected the vaccine or have not submitted their proof of vaccination. Bargained-for employees are not covered by the vaccine mandate. In Washtenaw County, 68.9% of residents 16 and older have been fully vaccinated.

Quarantine and isolation occupancy is 3.8%, with 11 students isolating due to a positive test result and zero quarantining after an exposure. All of the Q&I statistics represent a fall from last week.

For the week beginning Sept. 26, the University preliminarily reported 55 positive cases from 5,069 tests, which marks a slight uptake in positivity from last week.

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