Students who have always lamented the University’s early Spring Break can most likely look forward to vacationing with the rest of their peers next year, Michigan Student Assembly President Sarah Boot said.
Boot said an assembly proposal moving Spring Break one week later into the Winter Term needs only a green light from the University Board of Regents to become official.
“I met with different administrators in (University Provost Paul Courant’s) office, and the final word was he doesn’t have any problem with a change if the faculty doesn’t have a problem with a change,” Boot said. She then submitted the proposal to the faculty’s Senate Assembly, which supported a Spring Break move by a 74 to 1 margin.
“(Faculty) might like the break right now because it falls exactly in the middle of the semester,” she said. “But a benefit to making it a week later is that more midterms could be accomplished before break and students wouldn’t have them hanging over their heads.”
Boot added that the proposal began as a ballot question on the student government elections website last spring, when it rang in an 80 percent approval rating among voters for LSA Student Government and a 75 percent approval rating among voters for MSA.
Citing the assembly’s capacity for national and international reform, MSA passed a resolution urging the regents and University President Mary Sue Coleman to alter financial ties with Dow Chemical Corp. Several representatives and constituent speakers said Dow, a Michigan company – which has donated millions of dollars to the University – is morally and financially liable for its subsidiary Union Carbide’s 1984 chemical spill in Bhopal, India. The spill is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths and continues to contaminate drinking water in the Bhopal area, supporters of the resolution said.
Constituents said that because Dow owns Union Carbide, the company must pay $828 million in liabilities. The resolution, which passed 13 to 10 with seven abstentions, urges the University to compel Dow to begin cleaning up the spill and to “reject all donations from Dow Chemical or its directly associated foundations in excess” of what Dow spends annually to handle the spill.
“The chemical disaster is one of the worst disasters ever to occur,” LSA senior Morlie Patel said. “People are still suffering from this disaster.”
The resolution also holds Dow accountable for contaminating Michigan’s Tittabawassee River flood plain.
“We have a significant number of students from those areas being affected by the pollutions,” said MSA Environmental Issues Commission Co-Chair Alan Talhelm, who sponsored the resolution. “I feel like there is a good amount of student support.”
But some representatives who voted against the resolution said decreasing funding to the University would be unwise in light of recent state cuts to University funding.
“This is going to hurt the University, when all we want to do is hurt Dow in the right place,” Rackham Rep. Yoosuf Picard said, citing potential tuition hikes in the upcoming fall term that would be exacerbated by terminating a University relationship with Dow. “I don’t want to strain the University and send them letters saying to divest from a company that is very important to them.”