University alum Rachael Tanner was sitting in her urban and community studies class in April when a thought struck her: The University already sends students to Washington, D.C. for a semester. Why not set up a similar program in Detroit?
So Tanner came up with the idea for a semester-long residency in Detroit. She’s now organizing a program in which students live and work there for a semester while taking classes at the University’s Detroit Center.
The program’s goal is to get students interested in Detroit and its problems, said LSA senior Aditi Sagdeo, who is organizing the semester’s planning team.
“We’re really hoping students will get a meaningful experience about what it means to live in a city and contribute to the community,” she said.
Tanner said the semester in Detroit program is still in the planning stages. A group of 10 to 15 students is working with University faculty and staff members to gauge interest and begin laying the groundwork.
Sagdeo said organizers are still talking to University departments about course offerings. Organizers also need to find housing and employment for participants.
Tanner said she would love for the program to allow students and the University to be a part of the revitalization of Detroit.
“That would be really amazing,” she said.
The program would become one of many University outreach programs in Detroit, including the Detroit Project and the University’s Detroit Center. It plays in to a larger University strategy of reaching out to poorer cities and towns around the state as a way of maintaining ethnic diversity.
Outreach was a major part of the University’s Diversity Blueprints task force report. The task force was charged with finding ways to maintain diversity in the wake of Proposal 2 banning affirmative action programs in the state.
The University is also planning a larger outreach center that would coordinate outreach to high schools around the state, including in Detroit.
On Thursday, the University announced plans to create an outreach center in hopes of developing closer relationships with K-12 schools throughout the state. The University’s Diversity Blueprints task force first floated the idea for this program in its March report. The report contained ideas for programs the University could use to maintain ethnic diversity after the passage of Proposal 2.
The University is beginning its search for a director of the program, said Education Prof. Percy Bates, co-chair of the Diversity Blueprints task force subcommittee that suggested the outreach center.
“If we’re going to maintain a diverse campus, we’re going to have to increase outreach,” he said.
Bates said the program will also consolidate all the University’s efforts at networking with K-12 schools. Once a director is hired, Bates said, the center will target school districts for outreach.