University Council discusses student caregivers and lack of DEI summit awareness
University Council met Monday evening for its biweekly meeting in the Michigan Union, discussing the possibility of a resolution to support and provide a greater awareness toward student caregivers, as well as other topics such as Central Student Government’s meeting Tuesday on the Diag and this week’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion summit.
Business senior Grace Nasr proposed an idea for the resolution to raise awareness of student caregivers — students who have children on campus — specifically through modifying syllabus language.
“We’re just hoping to plant the seeds for change so that maybe one day this can be implemented in syllabus language … whether it be through the language we have presented, or something else, for nontraditional students,” she said. “It’s just something to kind of get the ball rolling, whether it be passing this resolution through CSG or just having University Council submit a statement of support or solidarity that they agree that there should be more awareness or resources for student caregivers.”
According to Nasr, the University of Michigan currently does not collect any data on student caregivers and there is currently no estimate on the number of student caregivers studying at the University.
“That was one of the challenges that we faced,” Nasr said. “The reason why we wanted to go through student government first was that we tried to go through professors and administration first … there was no data on this (student caregiver) population on campus.”
The council discussed the potential resolution with members, bouncing ideas off one another and providing feedback toward both the language and approach of the document. Rackham student Naomi Wilson advised the resolution should have clear explanations of resources available for graduate and undergraduate students.
“I think it’s important to delineate between graduates and undergraduates because I think in the graduate population we have a lot of resources for student caregivers,” Wilson said. “If we’re going to sign it as the University Council, I would like some clear language as it relates to student population.”
Following discussion on the potential resolution, CSG Vice President Nadine Jawad, a Public Policy senior, addressed the council and highlighted upcoming events. She spoke of Tuesday’s CSG meeting on the Diag, introduced by CSG President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, to incorporate more of a public-forum aspect into weekly meetings. She also underscored Tuesday’s Washtenaw County elections and encouraged the body to promote use of TurboVote, a mobile voter and civic engagement platform used by the Big Ten Voting Challenge to provide users with updates and alerts.
Jawad also highlighted the DEI summit held this week on campus. Low attendance rates at Monday’s events spurred conversation within the council, as members discussed advertisement of the summit and suggested ways to remedy communications issues between the administration and students in regard to University-wide events.
Engineering senior Breanna DeCocker used the email sent to Engineering students as an example, even though she criticized its lack of promotion of the summit.
“I just found an email from my dean two weeks ago that casually mentioned the DEI summit very deep inside the email,” DeCocker said. “First of all, barely anyone reads those emails because they’re too long; two, it usually just goes to people’s spam folders; and three, where are the actual physical advertisements that are in your face so that when you’re walking around you’re reminded of it constantly?”