A characteristically staid University Board of Regents listened
yesterday as students aired their concerns to officials whom they
criticized for being unresponsive or uncooperative.

Preceding the meeting’s regular agenda, members of the Ann
Arbor and University communities presented their issues to regents,
University President Mary Sue Coleman and along with a number of
University vice presidents.

Also in attendance were two speakers supporting Our Voices
Count, a student group opposed to proposed changes in the Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.

The student-led OVC elicited the strongest reaction amongst the
meeting’s attendees, as LSA senior Mia White gave a
five-minute speech denouncing recent changes to SAPAC.

The administration is shifting SAPAC’s counseling services
to Counseling and Psychological Services, located in the Michigan
Union. In addition SAFE House, the county provider for sexual
assault and domestic violence prevention services, will administer
SAPAC’s 24-hour Crisis-line. Administration officials say
they made the changes — taking effect this summer — to
streamline services and allow SAPAC to focus on education and
advocacy.

But OVC sees the changes as potentially harmful to survivors,
who will be forced to receive counseling at CAPS, located in the
most public space on campus. Here, they run the risk of
encountering their assailant — not a problem at SAPAC’s
office on North University Avenue, they said. “This is not
simply a change of venue or who’s answering the phone,”
White said at the meeting.

“The voices of the survivors have not been heard. The
voices of the University community have not been heard.”

Opponents claim that the changes are not empowering to survivors
and that their concerns have been “disregarded.”

After administration officials announced the changes, SAPAC
Director Kelly Cichy and CAPS director Todd Sevig met with students
to discuss their concerns, said Vice President of Student Affairs
E. Royster Harper. The two directors, along with associate dean of
students Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, “have made several
outreaches to students,” she said.

But OVC member Clair Morrissey said this is not necessarily
true. Although she has heard of Cichy speaking with SAPAC
volunteers, the director has not spoken with volunteers who operate
the Crisis-line, she said. These students will be the most affected
by the proposed changes, she said.

Coleman and Harper have met with students on this issue, but
Morrissey said this interaction has not been fruitful. OVC members
were present at Coleman’s most recent fireside chat, but
attendees said “they weren’t really listened to,”
Morrissey said she was told by the attendees. Regarding
Harper’s outreach to students, Morrissey said the vice
president “hasn’t contacted our group in any meaningful
way.”

The Lecturers’ Employees Organization, a union of
University lecturers and nontenure track faculty also spoke. LEO
seeks greater job security, universal health benefits, a living
wage and representation of University bodies that that affect their
teaching.

With lecturers teaching roughly 90 percent of Romance language
classes, 85 percent of Asian languages and 80 percent of sociology
classes, they said they felt their transient presence on staff is
“bad and unacceptable,” said Ian Robinson, co-chair of
LEO’s organizing committee. “We are going to stop
working within a system that works within these kind of
rules.”

Lecturers are not guaranteed employment. Instead hiring
decisions are made a year-to-year or term-to-term basis, LEO
advocates say. This is particularly problematic for international
lecturers, who cannot weather tenuous working conditions.

Invoking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written by
the United Nations, Rackham student Luis Martin-Cabrera asserted
that worker rights are human rights. F. Kenneth Chaves, president
of the University Skilled Trades Union, spoke of wage disparities
among Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. Lecturers in Ann
Arbor are paid significantly more.

“I wouldn’t advocate this type of labor for farm
workers,” Robinson said.

RC Prof. Charles Bright, who has lectured for more than a
decade, spoke of the declining recognition for lecturers, who were
once paid as much as assistant professors. “Many lecturers on
this campus are here by choice,” he said. In the
early-‘90s, when Bright noticed administration officials
asking lecturers to teach more, even as salaries had stayed
stagnant for 20 years, he notified his bosses of his dismay.

In response, his dean offered Bright a professorship, but his
issues were never addressed. After public comments had been made,
Perry, representing MSA, spoke to the board members about the
Diversity Summit held last week. At the summit, senior
administration officials spoke with students about diversity and
the campus climate. Attendees included University Provost Paul
Courant and Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical
affairs.

This year’s decline in minority applicants — down 23
percent, compared to 18 percent across the board — has raised
concern among students about the University’s plans to
maintain diversity.

“I urge you all to not sit down and wait to see what will
happen but to proactively seek (student input),” Perry said
to the board. She said that members of the MSA Diversity Council
are concerned about what will happen to diversity 10 years from
now.

In response, Coleman said the administration is assessing the
information gleaned from the summit and will issue a report when
this is completed. But Regent Rebecca McGowan (D-Ann Arbor)
stressed that students would probably like a more timely response.
Kelch said the administration is still committed to diversity.
“I will be working with President Coleman on that and with my
own staff at the medical center,” he said. Board members
approved the naming of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
The building will be named Sanford and Joan Weill Hall, after the
married couple — friends of former President Ford — who
recently gave $5 million to the school.

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