It saddens me to see University President Mary Sue Coleman’s announcement that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder will deliver an address at Spring Commencement, especially given Snyder’s recent policy initiatives that jeopardize the University’s future. The cut of $100 million to the University’s budget might seem acceptable in a time of fiscal crisis, but consider that the budget for the Michigan Department of Corrections will now dwarf the higher education budget — spending $0.79 on education for every $1 spent on corrections.
Further, Snyder wishes to eliminate personal tax deductions for those wishing to donate to public universities; those making more than $75,000 ($150,000 per couple) would no longer be able to make deductions for supporting their alma mater.
Inviting Snyder to deliver the commencement address tacitly endorses his gutting of the University’s budget and his threats to University donations, all while bestowing upon him an honorary degree. Irrespective of students’ wishes, the University will convey to our governor that we support his plan, one that threatens the very fabric of our University and discourages successful alumni from donating.
Hope isn’t lost, though. Students opposed to Snyder’s budget “fix” should pressure the University’s Board of Regents to reject Snyder’s invitation to speak at Spring Commencement. We shouldn’t honor someone whose proposal decreases access to education while privileging incarceration. Rather, we should send a message of concern to the governor, noting that we’re discouraged by his plans that threaten Michigan’s future.
William Rogers is a Nursing freshman.