The University Record, March 1, 1993

Deitch calls on administration to preserve ‘special day’

By Jane R. Elgass

“Move-in is a special day for students and families, a magical day in students’ lives, a day that deserves to stand on itself,” Regent Laurence B. Deitch said at the February Regents’ meeting.

Deitch’s comments were prompted by a discussion of the controversy that has surrounded this fall’s move-in to residence halls, which traditionally is done over Labor Day weekend. The rescheduling by the Athletic Department of a home football game for that Saturday has complicated the logistics of the project, which in past years has seen the closure of some streets to accommodate the crush of parents and students.

When are the halls scheduled to open? “That’s a good question,” said Maureen A. Hartford, vice president for student affairs. She said some move-in likely will occur on Thursday and Friday, as well as Saturday. While there had been talk of charging students who move in early additional fees, Hartford said they will be asked to pay for meals only. “I’m glad we withdrew the fee. It’s bad practice to impose extra fees caused by the University’s inability to manage its own calendar in a consultative way.”

Hartford said the administration is “exploring the whole issue of orientation, how to respond to new students and their parents,” with an eye to learning how orientation impacts on students’ success here. “We will have a more thoughtful plan in the future.”

President James J. Duderstadt noted that the U-M is “unusual” in starting classes after Labor Day. “This has been a concern of the deans and will possibly change in two years,” he noted.

The president said that the problems caused by the rescheduled game are “a lesson learned. We will be more sensitive, aware that more cooperation is needed, and will work to agree on a basis of mutual trust and confidence.”

Deitch said that he is pleased with the way things are being handled, “but it’s not what I prefer. It’s important to consider the ramifications of what we do,” adding that the “loss of a special day” also imposes additional burdens on families who may have to take a day off work.

Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. told the Regents that discussions of the academic calendar have been ongoing “long before this problem. Events now are pushing this [discussion].

“The calendar has other problems,” he said. “The third term is not as active and vigorous as envisioned and the fall final exam time is very compressed, offering little time for feedback.”