Senate Assembly talks anti-racism committee, vote of confidence in SACUA leaders

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 10:29am

SACUA discussed a vote of confidence and an anti-racism committee at the virtual meeting Monday evening.

SACUA discussed a vote of confidence and an anti-racism committee at the virtual meeting Monday evening. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Julia Forrest

The Senate Assembly discussed a proposal for a Committee on Anti-Racism as well as a vote of confidence in the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs’ leaders. The Assembly also talked about making meetings more accessible for those with disabilities and heard from Martino Harmon, vice president of Student Life. 

SACUA Chair Colleen Conway opened the meeting by discussing the layout of future Senate Assembly meetings and approving the agenda for the meeting. Items on future meetings include discussions on Title IX regulations, discussions on enrollment and presentations from campus leaders such as University President Mark Schlissel. 

MaryJo Banasik, director of the Faculty Senate Office, went on to explain the roles of each committee in the Senate Assembly before splitting all the present members into breakout rooms to voice their concerns about future SACUA and Faculty Senate meetings. 

All members then rejoined the main session where they discussed the proposal of a Faculty Senate Committee on Anti-Racism. The committee would be tasked with addressing community members who are racist. Though there was debate over whether “Anti-Racism” was an appropriate addition to the title, a vote in favor of the committee passed, with committee charges set to be discussed in future meetings. 

One supporter of the proposal, LSA associate professor Luke Hyde, expressed his concern with the name of the committee being “Anti-Racism.” He felt what the committee was being charged with does not confront institutionalized racism, but instead only targets and punishes individuals who are found to be racist. 

“I completely support the creation of a committee that would look for (racist actions by faculty members)... but I’m worried that this is leaving out the aspects of systematic racism,” Hyde said. “The text indirectly blames the victims or the people involved in it rather than the systems.” 

The Senate Assembly also heard from Harmon, who said the University is committed to enriching the lives of students. 

“Relevant to our work with all of (the Faculty Senate) as partners, really understanding and demonstrating how student life can improve our impact on students,” Harmon said. “And what I mean by that, it’s critical we link our impact to the overall mission of the University, and that’s students learning and student success. Our work really has to work to help students reach those goals.”

Harmon continued to praise the Senate Assembly and discuss his and the University’s role in working with the governance body to ensure students are successfully taken care of and set up to succeed. 

The faculty members proceeded to vote on a measure to express confidence in the SACUA chair, the treasurer and the director of the Faculty Senate Office. This vote of confidence was introduced by SACUA member Ivo Dinov, a Nursing professor, after the complicated vote of no confidence in the University administration that took place during the last Senate Assembly meeting that resulted in members unsure of the final result. Dinov’s motion was tabled and might be brought up at future meetings. 

Senate Assembly members Shanna Kattari, assistant professor of Social Work, and Meredith Kahn, a Gender & Sexuality Studies librarian, introduced a motion which would commit the Faulty Senate Office to making its meetings, voting procedures and communication more accessible for those with disabilities by accommodating their requests, aligning with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The vote passed and the SACUA chair adjourned the meeting. 

Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at juforres@umich.edu

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the Senate Assembly considered a motion to express confidence in SACUA leaders, not a vote of no confidence against them.


The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.

For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.