In April 2012, University Provost Phil Hanlon commissioned a task force of students and senior administrators to examine the issue of tuition equality for undocumented students. This measure, of course, was a reaction to the overwhelming mobilization of students, faculty and community members — both documented and undocumented — against the university’s discriminatory tuition policies. The task force kicked off what amounted to an official review of the University’s treatment of undocumented Michigan students with the intent of examining different policy options and issuing a recommendation to the University’s Board of Regents.
In March, after almost a year of research and preparation, the Task Force on Undocumented Students finally published its findings. However, that report wasn’t made public. Rather, the provost’s office sent the report to the executive officers — including University President Mary Sue Coleman — who will make the final recommendations to the regents without student input.
Regardless of one’s views on tuition equality, the administrative process undertaken by the executive officers is alarming. Coleman has precluded students’ voices from determining the recommended course of action under a disturbing lack of transparency. It’s perhaps reasonable to assume this is the University’s way of shirking its responsibility to Michigan students; as the Daily has reported, Coleman prefers not to address directly immigration-related issues at the University
Meanwhile, the state’s estimated 29,000 undocumented students bear the costs of bureaucratic cowardice. Like past actions organized by the Coalition for Tuition Equality, the demonstration on April 18 at the regents’ meeting serves to remind University leaders of the groundswell of support for immigrants’ rights in Ann Arbor and across the state and nation. As elected officials learned after the 2012 elections, the time for tuition equality is now.
Jacob Huston, Sanjay Jolly and Micah Nelson
LSA senior, School of Public Policy alum and LSA freshman