A small group of students voiced their concerns about the University’s plan for maintaining diversity without the aid of affirmative action at a forum held yesterday morning.

Drew Philp
University Provost Theresa Sullivan with Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, at a forum on the Diversity Blueprints report yesterday. (BEN SIMON/Daily)

The forum – hosted by University Provost Theresa Sullivan and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Lester Monts – was held to get student feedback on the Diversity Blueprints report, which was issued March 15.

University President Mary Sue Coleman commissioned the Diversity Blueprints Task Force to study how to maintain diversity on campus after Michigan voters banned affirmative action last fall. The committee was composed of 55 members, including faculty, administrators, students and alumni.

Several of the students said the recommendations in the report were vague and that the forum should have been held at a time when more students could have attended.

Only seven of the 10 students at the forum spoke. About 20 members of the University faculty attended the forum, but they did not speak.

The majority of students who spoke commended the efforts of the task force, but said that they were disappointed with the suggestions in the final report.

After the students spoke, Lester Monts said that he wants to make the report a “more solid document.”

Law student Avani Bhatt said she was “devastated” by the low turnout at an event that has such a large impact on the University.

The feedback session was held in Forum Hall of Palmer Commons from 10 to 11 a.m. yesterday.

The early-morning event was in an inaccessible location and inconvenient for students, Bhatt said.

Monts agreed that most students and faculty are in class during that hour, but he did not say why the event was scheduled at that time.

Many of the speakers requested more discussion forums so that more students could attend. LSA sophomore Bryon Maxey said that he would like to see at least three more forums before the end of the semester.

Monts said that the committee would continue to provide students with time to further discuss these issues.

LSA junior Kevin Szawala said students should receive more information about resources on campus that could increase diversity.

“There needs to be a more effective and feasible way for students to go out and contact faculty and staff,” he said.

LSA junior Sheldon Johnson said the problems with diversity at the University are old issues that have never been resolved.

“It sounds great on paper,” Johnson said about the report. “But what is really going to be done?”

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