Clad in yellow shirts of solidarity and grasping multicolored
balloons, a diverse regiment of students rallied around the Cube in
Regents Plaza yesterday protesting changes to student services by
the University’s Division of Student Affairs.
Disgruntled students marched to the Fleming Administration
Building and packed the University Board of Regents’ monthly
meeting to demonstrate against projected cuts in student services
over the next year, among other concerns.
Students from a broad coalition of campus groups entreated
senior administration officials to rethink changes to numerous
offices and organizations. Groups rallied around such issues as the
cuts to this year’s Pow Wow, anticipated changes to the Greek
system, slashes to the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Affairs budget and the lack of resources in the Office
of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs.
Their concerns extended beyond student affairs issues.
Protesters also criticized the administration of what they called
apathy in the face of declining minority enrollment and inaction
concerning hate crimes. Alleged negligence of multicultural
affairs, LGBT issues, sexual assault services and hate crime
protocols all represent an “elimination of safe spaces”
on campus and highlight what dissenters say is the
University’s hypocrisy on diversity.
En route to the administration building, more than 100 students
chanted, “Give us a voice, let us make a choice.” They
wore yellow shirts stating “Royster cut student services, and
all I got was this lousy T-shirt” and carried posters
imploring the administration to “Take diversity
After public comments had concluded, students shouted and stood
in support of the speakers at the Regents meeting. Four regents
responded to students about their concerns, despite the tradition
of remaining silent during or after public comments.
“I believe we’ve heard your pain,” Regent
Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) said to students and members of the
board. “We want you to know that we are listening.”
But not every regent offered conciliations. Many students were
offended by the remarks of Regent Andrew Richner (R-Grosse Pointe
Park), who suggested the protesters transfer their energy to
Monday’s basketball game against Oklahoma.
While most board members stressed building a stronger
relationship between students and the administration, many noted
the difficult budget situation. Although Regent Larry Deitch
(D-Bingham Farms) said “we need to put our money where our
mouths are,” other board members approached the issue
differently, stressing the importance of understanding the big
“What’s important is that there’s a broader
understanding among the student community as to what’s going
on with the budget, and what’s obvious to me is that
we’re not explaining that well,” Regent Andrea Fischer
Newman (R-Ann Arbor) said. “We’ve had an 18 percent
budget cut, and it’s unheard of, unprecedented.”
As her tenure as Michigan Student Assembly president draws to a
close, Angela Galardi gave her last report to senior administration
officials and entreated them to reconsider proposed changes to the
Greek system. MSA Vice President Monique Perry, also giving her
last speech to the board, decried the conditions of the William
Monroe Trotter House.
For the Greek system, the administration is considering
mandating substance-free housing, professional live-in advisors and
a delay of the rushing process for new students until the start of
the winter term.
“The current ideas have the potential to destroy (the
Greek system),” said Galardi, who mentioned that “all
in the Greek community” stand with her.
Representatives from the Native American Student Association
also spoke at the meeting. The students are upset about cuts in the
Pow Wow, an event celebrating Native American culture that
typically spans three days but this year will only last two.
NASA also seeks a formal apology from the administration for its
“informed inaction” concerning the group Michigamua,
made up of University students and alumni. NASA claims that
Michigamua appropriated Native American symbols and practices in a
derogatory way — such as nicknaming its members in a manner
derisive to Native Americans.
Among its laundry list of grievances, students also requested
that the University formalize its reporting of hate crimes and hate
incidents. Students contend that the actual number of cases is
markedly higher that those reported by the Department of Public
“Actions speak louder than words, and if you don’t
act, we will,” said LSA senior Mia White, uttering the last
public comment at the meeting. White is a member of Our Voices
Count, the student-led group formally opposed to all the proposed