Faculty members at the University of Michigan are considering a vote of no confidence in response to the university’s plan to reopen.
This comes after a memo from the school’s Ethics and Privacy Committee circulated online. The memo expresses concern that the school’s reopening plan does not meet a reasonable safety standard and notes that vulnerable populations would be the most hurt by the current plan.
Kentaro Toyama is a professor at the School of Information and a member of the faculty Senate. All tenured faculty are members of the Senate, and Toyama is on the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, or SACUA, which is the executive arm of the Senate. He says the vote of no confidence could happen in several ways.
“One is a no confidence in the plans for the fall reopening and the implementation of those plans, and the other would be a no confidence vote in the leadership of President Schlissel himself. It could be one or the other, or both,” he says.
He says the faculty has very little power in administrative decisions, and the administration is at liberty to ignore something like a vote of no confidence, but it’s still an important statement.
“I think it’s a significant thing if so many faculty are willing to vote for such a vote, and it would communicate to the public at large that there are serious problems with the leadership at the university,” says Toyama.
Toyama says he had never before seen 500 faculty members at the Senate meeting before, but that was the case when the committee met last week. He says that’s indicative of the level of concern among faculty members about the way the university is handling its reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Toyama says the faculty Senate will vote on September 16.
In a statement, U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald pointed to the school’s website for reopening plans, which he said contained “a wealth of information.”
Editor's note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.