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CompLit faculty sends statement to President Schlissel, Provost Collins, Dean Solomon, and Dean Curzan


September 15, 2020

Dear President Schlissel, Provost Collins, Dean Solomon, and Dean Curzan:

We, faculty from the Department of Comparative Literature, hold different positions in multiple departments, and we have multilateral commitments across LSA and the University of Michigan,  offering us broadly comparative, diverse, and interdisciplinary perspectives on the issues facing our university. At a time of unprecedented challenges and divisions in the university community, we write to share with you the principles and positions we hold in common. 

We value and expect from all sides open channels of communication, respecting a wide range of experiences and concerns. We acknowledge the complexity of the issues we face, and ask for good faith engagement from all sides in negotiations and communications. We are committed to building ongoing relationships that will help us address shared concerns in our community, and we repudiate harassment, bullying, shaming, and surveillance tactics, in person and online. 

We affirm our collective commitment to the following key issues:  

  • Universal right to health, including support for mental health Right to work remotely during Covid for all instructors and staff, without fear of retaliation
  • Transparent and effective plans for Covid testing, contact tracing and quarantining 
  • Transparency around planning for the next academic term in Winter 2021  
  • Additional support for faculty and all graduate students with childcare needs during Covid, including making available sufficient financial support for licensed and non-licensed child-care
  • One-year extension of funding for graduate students 
  • Adequate support to address the challenges and complications faced by international graduate students 
  • Attention to the precarious situation of some of our faculty and postdoctoral fellows, international or otherwise 
  • Safety of our campus and the surrounding community

We ask Rackham Graduate School to play an active role in finding solutions for graduate students, including support for expanded time to degree and leave of absence (with medical insurance) for mental health. We also urge Rackham to work proactively with the International Center, and to allocate funds for additional dedicated staff and/or liaison positions to address the specific needs of international graduate students.

We ask the Board of Regents to form a task force to address urgent concerns involving policing on campus at UM (the practices, the structure, the data, the budget) with representation from multiple constituencies in our community (including undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, workers, administration, police, parents, the city) and significant representation of the BIPOC community. 

Most immediately, we ask the university administration to find a swift resolution to the GEO strike, without retaliation or intimidation. We are unanimously appalled by the administration's decision to seek an injunction and a restraining order against GEO and request with urgency that it be rescinded immediately. This is a time for de-escalation and communication, not strong-arm tactics.

Release Date: 09/15/2020
Tags: Comparative Literature