The exclusion of students, faculty, and staff from university decisionmaking isn’t a new story or a shocking one. From CUNY to California, administrators have in recent years been dismantling shared governance, eliminating traditional oversight structures, and arrogating power to themselves.
The story is so common nowadays that it’s easy to become inured to it, particularly in circumstances in which no particular drama attaches to the fight. When administrators take down entire departments or trample individuals’ due process rights we take notice, but when they just steamroll on, doing what administrators do? It’s easy to lose interest.
We shouldn’t. We shouldn’t, and I’ll let Dave Wyman, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, tell you why.
Michigan is looking for a new president right now. The last time they went on that hunt, back in 2002, students, staff, and non-tenured faculty were represented on the committee. Today none of those constituencies are.
The strength of our University community is in its diversity. As undergraduate and graduate students, tenured and non-tenured instructors, staff and Ann Arbor residents, we all have interests, hopes and concerns for the new president and the direction of the University in general. We’re all stakeholders in this, and deserve to have our ideas taken as seriously as those of the narrow fraction of the community that makes up the administration and the committee…
We find ourselves on a campus where in-state undergraduate tuition has risen 63 percent in the last decade, making the University continually less accessible and forcing many students to take out dauntingly large loans. And, yet, we’re surrounded with new construction geared to boost rankings and draw out-of-state students. We have less say than ever in how the University operates. If we want these things to change — if we want a president who will rethink the model the administration has imposed — we have to take a stand for student rights.
When state funding subsidized the majority of University costs, perhaps it might have been fair for the regents to claim the broad authority they now do over University affairs. But when our tuition money is 62 percent of the budget, it’s unjustifiable for the administration to disenfranchise students in this fashion…
The time has passed for us to quietly petition the administration for a voice in the direction of the University. The time has passed for us to accept a powerless “assistive” role in vital decisions like the presidential search. We must demand a binding voice in the selection of Michigan’s next president and a deciding role in the way our university is run.
This Thursday at noon, the Student Union of Michigan will be rallying at The Cube on the U of M campus to demand that the administration reconstitute the presidential search committee in a manner that reflects the importance of all the communities that make up the campus.
I’ll be watching what happens on Thursday, and I hope you will be too.