The University faculty’s governing body came out against the planned renovation of Michigan Stadium yesterday.
The Senate Assembly, which represents the faculty to the University administration, passed a proposal asking University President Mary Sue Coleman and the University Board of Regents to postpone the renovations.
The challenge comes less than a month before the University plans to break ground on the project.
Irwin Goldstein, a professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Chemistry, presented a petition of more than 600 faculty signatures protesting the stadium renovations to the assembly.
The proposal passed with 18 votes. Seven members voted against the proposal and three members abstained.
Goldstein sent a copy of his petition to Coleman and the regents on Friday, and he said yesterday that he hadn’t received a response.
The assembly resolution supports Goldstein’s calls for the University to postpone construction on the stadium until an agreement is reached on the lawsuit brought against the University by the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The lawsuit claims that the planned stadium renovations would not include enough wheelchair-accessible seating under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The University argues that the construction of the luxury boxes doesn’t constitute a renovation of the stadium bowl and therefore doesn’t need to bring the bowl into ADA compliance. Plans call for the planned luxury boxes to be ADA compliant
A trial date has been set for September 2008.
The resolution also asks the University to take the renovations back to the planning stages, upgrade the stadium by adding seating available to all fans and include more faculty input in the decision.
Physics Prof. Keith Riles, who signed the petition opposing the renovations, moved for a vote on Goldstein’s proposals because Goldstein is not a member of the assembly.
Goldstein said he would await the reaction of Coleman and the regents before deciding his next steps.
As of 6 last night, Coleman’s office hadn’t received word of the proposal, University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said.
“As with every recommendation or resolution by the Senate Assembly, when she receives it, the president will give the resolution the most thoughtful consideration,” Cunningham said.
Assistant General Council Jack Bernard, chair of the University’s Council for Disability Concerns, said in an interview that he was concerned that Goldstein misrepresented the lawsuit while gathering signatures and presenting them to the Senate Assembly.
Goldstein mentioned the addition of luxury boxes to the stadium as a part of the violation of the ADA, the basis for the lawsuit. Bernard said the luxury boxes are not related to the accessibility issues with the renovation plans.
“This was not the source of the litigation,” he said. “It’s a separate matter.”
Bernstein said he fully supports the efforts of the assembly. He said the vote shows the faculty feels the administration is being dishonest in its discussion about the renovations.
John Pollack, a spokesman for Save the Big House, an organization opposed to luxury boxes, said he hopes Coleman and the regents listen to the opinion of the 600 faculty members.
“I applaud the faculty for taking a united and strong stance on this issue,” he said.