Porch banisters strewn with red Solo cups, dancing students on the roof and beer bongs dangling from third floor windows are not uncommon sites for passersby walking to Michigan Stadium on Football Saturdays.
While that scene occurs every game day, E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, told students yesterday that the behavior does not accurately reflect who University students are.
“I think there is quite a lot of concern around getting to the games healthy and safe and sober,” Harper said.
Harper expressed her sentiments about student safety before football games at a fireside chat with University President Mary Sue Coleman and about 40 students in the Kuenzel Room of the Michigan Union yesterday. Harper addressed the issue in response to a question from LSA senior Sloane Wolf who asked why it seems police are breaking up Football Saturday pregame parties more often this year than they did in the past.
“This year, (it has) gotten to the point where (the police) are taking groups of people, no matter if they’re 21 or not, and forcing them to leave houses,” Wolf said. “So it just has students scattering everywhere and kind of taking away the spirit, I think, for the pregame — especially when the University is doing so well in the sport.”
Coleman directed the question to Harper, who said there has been an increase in heavy drinking on Saturday mornings, so the police are trying to control the behavior.
“I think the intent (of the increased presence) is to tone it down, to get everybody more conscious and to not have it begin so early,” Harper said.
The attendees also addressed campus safety at the fireside chat — a periodic event in which Coleman invites a small number of students to talk with her in a personal setting about any campus topic or concern.
Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones also attended and explained new safety measures being implemented this year like the Beyond the Diag program — a new effort to unite students in off-campus residential to help increase safety awareness. Jones said there are plans to expand Beyond the Diag into several neighborhoods surrounding campus and to improve late night transportation.
At the chat, Coleman also discussed how to increase minority enrollment at the University. The University values diversity and is working to keep enrollment rates of minority students high, she said. However, the task became more difficult when Michigan voters banned affirmative action in 2006, Coleman said. As a result, the University had to amp up its recruitment efforts.
“When the state, against my better judgment, changed the constitution to restrict our ability to use affirmative action in admissions, then we really kicked into gear even more of the programs we’ve been doing traditionally,” Coleman said. “The good news is that every year our applications for underrepresented minorities has gone up.”
Last year’s freshman class was composed of 10.6 percent underrepresented minority students — a 1.5-percent increase from the 2009-2010 freshman class.
To Coleman, the most important aspect of increasing minority enrollment is to improve matriculation rates after admittance. She said the University is making greater efforts to encourage students to choose to attend the University after being admitted.
“We win some, we lose some, but we need to keep at it because it’s very important,” Coleman said.