The University Record, April 24, 2000

Panel releases recommendations for the allocation of space

By Joel Seguine
News and Information Services

With recommendations that “no student organization be granted a permanent or indefinite right to occupy space owned by the University of Michigan” and that the “space of all student organizations should be subject to a periodic reassignment process, review and potential reallocation,” the Panel on Space Allocation for Student Organizations and University Involvement with Student Organizations made its report last week to President Lee C. Bollinger and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper.

Appointed in March by Harper, the panel includes Patricia Gurin, professor of psychology and of women’s studies; Earl Lewis, dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and professor of history; and Christina Whitman, professor of law and of women’s studies.

Another of the total of nine recommendations is that all organizations given the use of University space “be made aware of the importance of respectful engagement with diverse perspectives. In particular, we urge those groups using University space to avoid the perpetuation of degrading group caricatures. Names, rituals and symbolism that caricature minority groups foster distrust, undermine community and present a false picture of University values. We urge all student organizations to be mindful of the pain that such caricatures cause members of our community.”

Other recommendations include: being evenhanded in applying the University’s rules regarding smoking, drinking and hazing; being viewpoint-neutral in space assignment; that all schools and colleges create space assignment policies consistent with the panel’s other recommendations; and processes for periodic review of space allocation.

These recommendations address the first of two charges given the panel by Harper: to examine and make recommendations on the University’s policies and practices regarding space allocation to student organizations, with particular attention to the question of under what conditions, if any, a student organization should be entitled to space that is not subject to a periodic assignment process, review and potential reallocation.

The panel’s other charge is to examine and make recommendations on the proper nature and scope of University involvement with student organizations, and under what circumstances and in what ways the University, its administrators and faculty members should be associated with such organizations. This second report will be made before Oct. 2.

“I deeply appreciate the work the panel is doing,” Harper said. “As we look toward making decisions based on these recommendations, we want to be as serious, thoughtful and respectful in our consideration of the recommendations as the panel members obviously have been in making them.”

The full report is online at www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/Reserves/W00/spacepanel/index.html.