September 21, 2021
Welcome to this week of The University Insider. We hope you enjoyed the last weekend of summer and are looking forward to fall officially beginning tomorrow.
This week, Entheofest packs the Diag as people show up to celebrate the decriminalization of psychedelics, Ann Arbor and UMich grapple with the nationwide labor shortage and the 1U campaign continues to call for change in funding the Flint and Dearborn campuses.
“Psychedelics … have been used by humans for thousands of years for healing, both (for) interpersonal and intercultural healing,” Social Work student Christian Smith said. “And this is a celebration of the year anniversary of decriminalizing sacred plant medicines in Ann Arbor.”
One year after voting to make psychedelics the city’s “lowest priority” for prosecution, supporters of entheogenic plants filled the Diag to celebrate Ann Arbor’s push and encourage other jurisdictions to do the same.
The crowd, composed of attorneys and students, legislators and activists, listened to speakers extol the mental health benefits of psychedelics and decry the War on Drugs that left their possession subject to strict criminal penalties.
State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, also used the opportunity to attack the pharmaceutical industry, contrasting the high death toll of the opioid epidemic to the low toll of entheogenic plants. State Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, also spoke, discussing Senate Bill 631, which he introduced to decriminalize psychedelics statewide.
Last week, we told you the Lecturers’ Employee Organization tentatively accepted a new contract with the University of Michigan, staving off a strike. On Sept. 19, 96.6% of the union’s members ratified the contract, which includes a nearly $12,000 increase in the Dearborn and Flint campuses’ median salaries. The raise brings Flint and Dearborn lecturer salaries in line with Ann Arbor’s, a landmark victory on one of the union’s key bargaining points.
The Daily’s data team teamed up with reporters to create a profile of the incoming freshman class based on 1,528 survey respondents in the Class of 2025. See where they’re from, what they’re excited about and more.
Ann Arbor City Council is introducing a new tenant commission to better represent and protect renters in Ann Arbor — but with non-voting landlord members on the commission too.
This led up to the council approving changes to the Early Leasing Ordinance, which now restricts landlords from showing prospective tenants or entering into new leases for the following year until 150 days before the end of the current lease. A group of landlords recently sued the City because of the ordinance.
In passing Monday night’s resolution, Ann Arbor became the third city in the nation — after Seattle and King County, Wash. — to implement a tenant commission for increasing discussion around issues related to renters and providing recommendations for City Council on rental policies. However, the other two cities don’t have landlord members, voting or non-voting, as part of their commissions.
Ann Arbor businesses recovering from the pandemic as students return to campus are struggling to fill staffing vacancies to keep up with demand. The shortages even extend into the dorms, as the University has failed to fill critical positions in Housing and Dining. The shortages have decreased service hours, particularly on weekends.
Economics professor Linda Tesar explained that COVID-19’s lasting impacts have made it more difficult for businesses to fill openings. She encouraged business owners to follow public health guidelines even when not required and to increase wages whenever possible.
After dispatching the Washington Huskies in Week 2, the Wolverines dispatched Northern Illinois’ Huskies Saturday to improve to 3-0. While the run game continued to dominate, Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara managed to produce 191 yards of passing offense in just two quarters of play. Defense shone as well, limiting NIU starter and former Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi to a mere 51 yards and two scores. 106 Wolverines saw playing time in the rout as Michigan cycled through seemingly its entire depth chart, failing to find an unsuccessful combination against the Huskies.
UM-Flint Political Science professor Jason Kosnoski and UM-Dearborn undergraduate student Daille Held penned an op-ed to encourage University officials to rethink the funding model for the Flint and Dearborn campuses. They point to LEO’s unmet demand for $30 million in extra funds to the two campuses as a reasonable benchmark, arguing the two campuses need the funding to provide higher levels of student support and a better educational product.
The funds are available, they argue, and would go further in Flint and Dearborn than they can in Ann Arbor. Finally, they point out the University has invested $85 million in DEI initiatives on the Ann Arbor campus and insist the same ideas need to motivate funding models for Flint and Dearborn.
The University announced an end to COVID-19 classroom and building notifications, which were sent following a classroom or workplace exposure to COVID-19. University officials said the notifications, which were introduced in fall 2020, are no longer necessary since everyone in those spaces is wearing a mask and most are vaccinated. Contact tracing will continue and those identified as close contacts will still be notified separately.
As of Monday evening, 95% of students are fully vaccinated (with another 2% partially vaccinated and 2% exempt) along with 95% of faculty and 82% of staff, bringing the employee vaccination rate to over 80% for the first time. Two percent of employees have received an exemption, 1% are in progress and 14% 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, 68.2% of residents 16 and older have been fully vaccinated.
Quarantine and isolation occupancy is 15.6%, with 43 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. 5, the University preliminarily reported 82 positive cases from 6,122 tests, which brings positivity in line with mid-July levels as the campus population rebounds. A slight decrease in tests may be associated with the decision to end worksite and classroom exposure notifications.
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