1U Coalition Aims for Change within the University of Michigan

Will Stuart, Writer

Formed last semester, the One University Coalition recently passed a platform built on creating equity between all three U-M campuses.

The goal of the coalition is to address disparities in resources between the campuses, with a focus on funding. By asking the Michigan State Legislature and the University of Michigan for resource equality, the coalition hopes to remedy a variety of issues.

The coalition is made up of interests groups from all three schools, including graduate and undergraduate students, tenure track and non-tenure track faculty, non-instructional staff and community members.

During a meeting held on February 28, coalition members from all three campuses decided on their platform and timeline for the near future.

According to the State of Michigan executive budget, in the 2019 fiscal year, the Ann Arbor campus was provided with $314,589,100. In contrast, the Dearborn campus received $25,421,900 with Flint being the lowest at $23,061,800. The coalition has asked the state for more funding for these two campuses. While Ann Arbor’s campus is bigger, it receives higher funding per student than Flint or Dearborn.

Among the coalition’s requests to U-M is an extension of the Go Blue guarantee to all three schools. Currently in place only in Ann Arbor, the guarantee provides free tuition for four years to in-state families with an income of $65,000 and under, as well as tuition support to those with incomes up to $180,000, provided they meet academic requirements.

Although tuition in Flint and Dearborn is less than in Ann Arbor, their students generally have a lower income.

The coalition also asked U-M for other financial increases, including expanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion funds at all three campuses. These grants are a few thousand dollars in size and are provided to students, faculty and staff who are looking to create programs that illuminate any of those three categories.

Equitable pay for non-tenure track faculty and graduate student employees was also requested. Lecturers at Flint and Dearborn are paid less than those at Ann Arbor, and after bargaining last year their salaries increased. However, many believe this increase to still not be reflective of the work they provide.

For benefits aimed more toward students, the coalition has asked for an increase in study abroad scholarships. At the Flint campus, students in the honors program are given a scholarship to either study abroad or participate in an off-campus study–not every students receives this though.

Another provision at Ann Arbor not present elsewhere is the availability of on-campus legal and medical services. The Student Legal Services program is funded through a nominal fee paid every semester, with extra court costs paid by the student. The Ann Arbor Health Service receives payments from tuition and includes fees for students for certain medical help.

The final portion of the coalition’s platform is targeted toward students who aren’t yet enrolled at a U-M affiliated school. The first topic was a coordinated acceptance process. The plan would be that a prospective student applies to all three campuses in one application and can make their choice in a shorter time due to decisions being rolled out within a similar timeline.

As of right now, Ann Arbor sometimes hold the records of their applicants so Flint and Dearborn can’t make a decision until late into the season–most prospective students have already chosen another school by this time.

In addition, the committee is requesting a new transfer policy. As of right now, Flint offers a streamlined process for engineering students within the 2+2 program. The proposal would allow all U-M students, regardless of school or program, to freely transfer between all three campuses after two years as long as they maintain a certain GPA, which has yet to be determined.

While some members had concerns regarding students only wanting to transfer to the Ann Arbor campus, they were assured that, if these new measures were taken, all campus conditions would improve, making each desirable for transfer.

Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesperson from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, gave a statement on the coalition:

“The University of Michigan has long advocated for increased state funding for all campuses, including Flint and Dearborn. We each get our resources directly from the state, and from tuition paid by students on each campus. We continue to work on ways for our three campuses to collaborate with each other and enhance efficiencies to save money, while maintaining each campus’ independence and distinctive qualities.”

The Flint and Dearborn campuses did not respond to our requests for comment.