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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo Courtesy of Heather Maurer
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Amelia Kashian April 18, 2024

SRA report process disenfranchises students

SRA+report+process+disenfranchises+students

The Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) report is an 84-page document outlining recommendations for 357 NMU programs created by the Academic Task Force. In addition to this report, there is a 44-page supplemental prepared by the Support Task Force detailing 250 non-academic programs. This paper has printed an overview of what is going on, but it has likely already slipped your mind. Here’s why it shouldn’t.

This task force reviewed programs across campus and categorized them on a scale of 1 to 5. Placement in quintile one means the program is recommended for enhanced resources. Quintile two means the program should continue with the same resources. Three means the program should continue with reduced resources, and four means the structure of the program should be transformed, and should receive the resources necessary for that transformation. Proposals from this
transformation come from the heads of the departments of these programs. Quintile five means the program is recommended for phasing out by senior leadership. Your library, your sports teams and your majors are all on
this list.

Food options besides Northern Lights Dining are all recommended for franchising. The International Exchange program is recommended to be cut entirely and replaced with faculty-lead trips. The dome, a staple of Northern’s campus, has been suggested to be turned to a community center to lower costs. To know more about the recommendations for your major or programs, students can access the documents.

The vast majority of standing university committees have student representatives and some are even composed entirely of students. However, for the SRA, the university did not deem it necessary or appropriate to have constant student input. NMU’s structure for student representatives allows for involvement of students ideas and voices in a variety of subjects, ranging from parking to which programs the university offers. It’s obvious that overlooking student in the case of the SRA was an intentional choice.

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The Academic Task Force was established in February of 2017 and is composed of 20 faculty members from different departments, including four department heads. Faculty were expected to handle the extra work of this review without an additional stipend because it was thought to be part of their day to day, while students were thought to have too much on their plate.

Students were not represented in any way during the creation of this document. The majority of students did not have access to these documents until Oct. 3. The one event targeted for student input was cancelled. If students wanted to have their voice heard at all, they were expected to go the public forum on the same day they gained access to the hundreds of pages of documents. Our university administration is attempting to assess and allocate funds to or from your programs without your consent. You were not represented despite the fact that these programs affect your course of study and the environment on your campus. We were intentionally left out of a conversation because it was believed that students could not understand the depth and complexity of the report.

At the SRA forum that was open to the public, Kerri Schuiling, the provost who acts as the second in command to President Erickson, stated, “We did not believe that students could comprehend the reports or make the time to fully participate in the committee…We thought it would be too hard on students to make these time commitments.” Rather than seeking out any of the students who would have been more than happy to do it, they made sure there was no student voice in these conversations. This is a disservice to both the Board of Trustees that these documents are presented to and the students this campus is supposed to serve.

Northern’s president and provost have expressed their anticipation for ex post facto student
involvement because the reports are accessible to the entire campus community. They set expectations for students to voice opinions towards department recommendations to the Task Forces. However, the student population has only recently received full access to these documents, as opposed to the almost full month that faculty were granted. If we, as students, cannot possibly allocate time or comprehend the reports enough to partake in their creation, how is giving us the reports the very night of the forum, allowing us time to formulate an opinion and ensure our voice is heard? This is deliberate manipulation of the process to ambush students and ensure that we have no say. Unfortunately for them, students aren’t known for staying silent.

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