With the state expected to cut University funding, Michigan Student Assembly members spoke to University Provost Paul Courant about how the administration will react if forced to condense its budget.

“Paul Courant gave us a rough estimate, and basically we just wanted to hear him say how the University is going to respond to expected cuts,” said Liz Higgins, MSA External Relations Committee chair, at the assembly’s meeting last night.

Higgins cited an expected $80 to $90 million deficit in the University’s upcoming budget. “There may be a 5 to 7 percent increase in tuition,” she said.

She said Courant assured her that students will not experience double-digit tuition hikes. But several points on the budget, such as weekend custodial services in some campus buildings and administration spending will face cuts if the state chooses to lower funding, she said.

In response, MSA plans to send letters to the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives to protest slashed University funds.

“People still need to go to school, and they’re not going to be able to do so because they can’t afford it,” Higgins said. “We’re going to a national level after this.”

Higgins added that financial aid payments will increase proportionally to tuition hikes.

Anticipating the March elections, MSA representatives proposed amendments to the assembly’s election code in order to make campaigning less obtrusive to constituents.

“There’s been an overwhelming desire on and off MSA to make these changes, and we’re excited to see them,” Rules and Elections Committee Chair Jason Mironov said. “Students will have to learn about their representatives from person-to-person contact, rather than flyering.”

At next Tuesday’s MSA meeting, the assembly will vote on an amendment to the election code that prohibits representatives from plastering campus walls with campaign flyers.

Noting a lack of female and minority faculty at the University and at institutes of higher education nationwide, the assembly agreed to vote next week on a resolution to lobby for change. They will ask the University to seek methods of “recruiting and maintaining minority and women faculty members,” the resolution says.

“There was a 2001 survey done by the Center for the Education of Women, which found that the percentage of doctorates awarded to women is higher than the percentage of women faculty members at the University,” said MSA Student General Counsel Joe Bernstein.

The assembly proposal points out that the University of Iowa increased its tenure for minority faculty more than 2 percent and its tenure for female faculty by more than 7 percent over the past decade. MSA hopes the University will seek similar strategies in creating a diverse staff.

“We’re giving out all their degrees and not hiring” women and minority faculty, MSA Communications Committee Chair Pete Woiwode said. “This (resolution) shows that the University is committed to diversity in those being educated, but not so committed to diversity in those educating.”

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