In response to several weeks of student protests against
student-service budget cuts and changes, University President Mary
Sue Coleman has proposed the formation of a student advisory
committee and student-run budget meetings in a written statement
sent out yesterday.
“Future dialogue needs to ensue, but we’re glad
President Coleman is eager to implement change,” said LSA
junior Harlyn Pacheco, a member of Student Voices in Action, which
has rallied against certain administrative changes affecting
Coleman said she wishes to “establish productive dialogue
among students and administrators” and “accelerate
decisions that have taken too long.”
Coleman’s key move was agreeing to establish a Standing
Student Advisory Committee. The committee will be run by Vice
President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper and will
“encourage additional student input on University issues that
have an impact on student communities,” Coleman said.
But Coleman said Monday the committee would not have veto power
over certain administrative decisions, despite SVA’s original
requests for such authority.
The advisory group will include representatives from several
different student organizations, but the specifics on who will
comprise the committee, and how it will be run remain unclear.
Although the details of the committee have yet to be decided,
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said, “it would be a
structure in place indefinitely.”
Coleman also proposed the reformation of an annual discussion
between Provost Paul Courant and members of the Michigan Student
Assembly. Before MSA discontinued them, the meetings traditionally
were convened “to discuss the budget-setting and
prioritization process,” but recently failed to be organized
due to lack of student interest.
“Student participation was low to nonexistent,”
Peterson said. “Now is the right time to re-engage students
in the budget process.”
Peterson added that the years when no meetings took place were
often free of budget difficulties.
The letter also referred to a meeting at the William Monroe
Trotter House on Monday held by Student Voices in Action where
Coleman said she was “disappointed that we were not able to
have a more productive dialogue.” The meeting, however,
catalyzed the formation of the letter sent to students.
“There was a lot of work done to pull it together,”
Peterson said. “(The letter) had a two-fold purpose —
to follow up with the meeting and to express the information she
had prepared but didn’t have the opportunity to
Members of SVA agree that the letter complimented the
information that was presented and discussed at the meeting.
“We’re happy to see in writing the ideas they
have,” said LSA sophomore and SVA member Lisa Bakale-Wise.
“We were looking for concrete responses to all of the demands
we presented and that’s not what the administration came
prepared to give (on Monday).”
SVA also looks forward to cooperation between students and
administrators. “We’re conscious of the complexity of
the issues and will continue to work on them,” Pacheco
In the letter, Coleman also proposed to form a group of student
representatives to discuss options for changes to the Trotter
She said she is committed to the Greek system discussion, and
addressed changes to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness
Center, student recruitment, reporting bias incidents and a
Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay Task Force.
Including topics pertaining to budget allocation and program
issues, SVA originally elicited response on these issues from the
Coleman’s letter was sent out yesterday to The Michigan
Daily, as well as members of the Michigan Round Table, SVA and