One University Campaign hosts forum to continue awareness of inequities between the University's three campuses

Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 10:21pm

One University aims to alleviate resource disparities between the three University campuses.

One University aims to alleviate resource disparities between the three University campuses. Buy this photo
Courtesy of One University Campaign

Thursday night, the One University Campaign gathered in the Lecturers’ Employee Organization and Graduate Employees Offices to express their upcoming goals to create equity among University of Michigan’s three campuses: Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint.

Residential College lecturer Alexander Bivas Elkins conducted the meeting. Elkins first went over the demands of 1U and emphasized that their directed audiences are the University’s Board of Regents and the Michigan State Legislature.

“Even though the Board of Regents covers all three campuses, there are three separate state allocations for the three campuses,” Elkins said. “So we’re trying to engage legislators in allocating the money differently so there’s greater equity per-student funding.”

Other demands included pay parity for lecturers and graduate students. Lecturers in Dearborn and Flint have a lower starting salary than those in Ann Arbor.

“In Dearborn and Flint, their starting pay is $10K less than the starting pay in Ann Arbor, and the workload in Dearborn and Flint is 33 percent more,” Elkins said.

Starting pay for graduate students in Flint is $7,000 less than graduate students in Ann Arbor and Flint, according to 1U. He hopes GEO of Ann Arbor and Flint will help their Flint peers.  

A particular concern of students at the 1U forum was the goal of on-campus medical and legal services in Flint and Dearborn. Unlike the Ann Arbor campus, there is no University Health Service or Counseling and Psychological Services accessible to students at the other campuses.

Students who apply to Ann Arbor must opt out of consideration for admissions at either Dearborn or Flint. Elkins said 1U is also trying to forward the applications of students who do not get into Ann Arbor to the other locations.

“So right now, if you apply to Ann Arbor, you have to opt out of having your application, if it’s rejected, sent to Dearborn and Flint,” Elkin said. “So it’s about … coordinating with each other so that we’re admitting more students to the other two campuses that aren’t getting as many students.”

Erin Lavin, lecturer of LSA Romance Languages and Literatures, attended the forum and became involved with 1U after seeing the differences in budgeting between the three campuses. She believes better pay for lecturers ensures a better education for their students.

“As long as the budgets continue to be restricted, it really does impact how students are funded and how the people who teach them are funded,” Lavin said. “And if the people who teach them continue to have to work three or four or five different jobs, that’s going to impact the type of interaction they have with their students.”

One University has meetings set up with legislators in April and May, as well as a rally in Dearborn on May 16.

Public Policy junior Priya Judge, organizer in Michigan Student Power Network, said it is imperative for Ann Arbor students to understand these issues affect everyone.  

“A lot of the students here tend to come from backgrounds of privilege — it’s really easy to feel like these are issues that don’t affect us,” Judge said. “But when lecturers, for example, are not receiving the same pay or are having to teach more classes in order to be considered full-time, just because of the campus they teach on, it becomes a very racialized and classist way that the University is operating.”

LSA senior Hoai An Pham believes understanding how students struggle due to lack of resources offered through the University is necessary to break down the stereotype of Dearborn and Flint students being worse students.

“Coming to the Ann Arbor campus, there’s a really strong and elitist belief that Dearborn and Flint students aren’t good enough and we don’t think about the structural ways that students might be barred from performing well in college,” Pham said. “Not just with grades, but having to work another job or send money home. At U of M (Ann Arbor), we have lower income resources that help those students … We spent $85 million on DEI work here and $0 in Flint and Dearborn.”