Students upset with recent budget cuts to student services
confronted the targets of much of their criticism yesterday.
In a room filled with tension, University President Mary Sue
Coleman and Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper
responded to demands posed by members of Student Voices in Action
at the William Monroe Trotter House.
But students and administrators questioned the productiveness of
LSA senior Clair Morrissey said she was frustrated because none
of SVA’s demands were met. “They talk a lot about
supporting us, but when you get them in the same room you see their
true colors,” said Morrissey an SVA member.
But Morrissey added that the meeting was useful.
“It’s important to engage in the kind of dialogue we
did today. I would have hoped the administrators were more open to
listening,” she added.
Harper said she was also disappointed with the outcome of the
meeting. “I think this was an opportunity to have something
accomplished, but there was more of a commitment to the demands
than to problem-solving. … I think this could have been the
start of a great new way to work together.”
Coleman started the meeting, expressing her desire to work
together with students to find solutions.
“Here’s what I want to do: Figure out ways to have
more productive dialogues. We need to accelerate some decisions
that are taking too long … You deserve that — the
entire University deserves that,” Coleman said.
As Coleman began to address the University’s budget
problems, LSA senior Jackie Bray, an SVA member, cut her off and
moved forward with SVA’s 10 demands regarding undergraduate
RC senior Erik Glenn voiced SVA’s request that the
University retain an Education Affairs Coordinator in the Office of
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs on a permanent and
full-time basis. The LGBT Affairs office recently announced the
position will be terminated at the beginning of the next fiscal
year. SVA also requested that gender identity be added to the
University’s nondiscrimination policy.
Coleman said a task force will be issuing a report concerning
the LGBT office by early next month. She said she must wait to hear
from the committee before she can give an accurate answer.
SVA supporters also expressed their opposition to the proposed
changes to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. The
changes include eliminating the campus-based crisis hotline and
moving two counseling positions to Counseling and Psychological
Harper said she hopes a solution to the SAPAC changes can be
reached through small group discussions. “We need to talk
about the framing of it and get our facts on the table and then we
can talk about what’s on the table, within the next four
weeks,” Harper said.
“I’m open to having my mind changed and to changing
others’ minds,” she added.
Students also expressed concern because of the 30 percent
decrease in underrepresented minorities for the upcoming academic
The University, however, expects an increase in minority
admissions after next year, said University Provost Paul Courant,
who also attended the meeting.
SVA demanded that the University hire a Latino and a Middle
Eastern coordinator by September for the Office of Multi-Ethnic
Harper agreed to rehire a Latino coordinator to replace the
previous coordinator who left last semester.
“The Latino position will be posted within two weeks, and
we’re going to act more aggressively to fill this position.
It has always been a permanent, full-time position,” Harper
Harper agreed that Middle Eastern students need support, but she
said the University is still figuring out how to provide those
Hate crimes are another serious issue on campus, according to
both SVA and University administrators. Coleman said she is very
concerned about hate incidents and assured students that the Safety
and Security Committee is already working to combat the
Native American students were particularly upset about the costs
of last weekend’s Ann Arbor Dances for Mother Earth Pow Wow
— an annual event that celebrates Native American culture.
Harper, however, said the Division of Student Affairs always pays
the deficit for the Pow Wow at the end of the fiscal year, but this
year it was unable to provide an adequate budget for the event.
SVA also expressed its concerns about secret society Michigamua.
The society was criticized a few years ago for using Native
American rituals. Coleman, however, said it is her understanding
that the society has moved off campus.
When addressing the students’ demands for improvements to
the Trotter House — the student multicultural center —
Coleman said she is looking into raising money to renovate the
house but added that she is not sure if complete renovations are
Finally, SVA wants to establish a Student Oversight Committee
that will have veto power over the Division of Student Affairs. In
response, Coleman said, “We are open to having another
advisory committee … but that group will be advisory. We
don’t have advisory groups that have veto power.”