Video of President Smith’s first “Listening Session”

Via the Book of Face Faculty Senate page comes this video, “EMU Listening Session, Dec 9, 2016.” This was the second of these sessions, with four more scheduled for winter 2017.

I skipped around in the video because it’s kind of long and it’s a busy time of the year, but I’ll mention two things for now:

  • It seemed like what Smith wanted to do is what all administrator-types want to do: he wanted to talk about his strategic plan. What everyone at the event wanted to talk about was the dumb way EMU has handled the racist graffiti incidents on campus and the dumb way EMU has punished students for sitting around in the student center. I get the impression Smith wasn’t exactly prepared for that.
  • One issue that came up several times was about hiring diverse faculty and about training for search committees for this– that is, the administration says that faculty are being trained for this when they really aren’t. I think it’s complicated.

    I chaired a search last year, and there was a “training” of a sort in the sense that all the chairs and department heads for various searches were called to a meeting and they Academic HR gave us a slide show that I would describe as common sense. As a member of a committee this year, there’s been no training for the likes of me.But there are two things here that make this sort of targeted hiring for diversity difficult– not to mention the fact that Michigan passed an amendment to its state constitution in 2006 outlawing “preferential treatment” in hiring and lots of other things. First, the people on the search committee don’t know the race or ethnicity of applicants when we’re looking at their file– and by the way, that’s a good thing because not knowing makes it less likely for the committee to discriminate. Second, most people who go to graduate school and earn a PhD in my field are white, meaning that the first thing we really need to do to increase the diversity of faculty is to increase the diversity of graduate studies. That’s a long-term plan.

4 thoughts on “Video of President Smith’s first “Listening Session”

  1. I agree that the President shouldn’t arbitrarily be able to decide which students/cases get dismissed or proceed through the conduct system.


    • Well, I think that in unusual circumstances, it is reasonable for the university president to weigh in on these sorts of matters. This is an unusual circumstance. Besides, the situation that’s being created here is just some finger-pointing. The president says “hey, the people in student conduct can make a decisions with their discretion” and the people in student conduct say “hey, we’re just following the rules we’re told to follow.”


    • Dear Not Geoff Larcom — the EMU Code of Conduct plainly states that the whole Conduct office is carried out under the authority of the President. And, in the past, EMU presidents have routinely intervened and directed conduct office matters. These are facts, however much officials now would like the facts to be different than they are.


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