ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan is investing in six research projects aimed at combatting racism after faculty members criticized the university for inaction following global protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
The university’s $270,000 investment is part of the university’s work to examine systemic racism and contribute to finding ways to address it, according to Susan Collins, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
University leaders say the announcement Friday is critically important to society.
“Any amount spent to combat racism is money well spent, and I’m glad the University stepped up after (a professor) publicly called out President (Mark) Schlissel and Provost Collins over their stunning lack of action over the summer,” said Silke-Maria Weineck, a professor of German studies and comparative literature.
The research projects will include how residents can play a role in eliminating racist policies, including racism experiences of Asian Americans during the pandemic and the impact of redrawn legislative districts on minority voting power, according to The Detroit News.
“These research projects are an important part of the university’s work to examine systemic racism,” said Susan Collins, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Individually and collectively, they will deepen our understanding of the multifaceted effects of racism and contribute to finding ways to address it.”
Weineck, however, feels $270,000 is not enough, especially spread over six projects.
“It’s one quarter of the Athletic Director’s yearly salary,” she said. “I’d like to see the University invest in deep, structural change, beginning with its own operations in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint rather than tinker around the edges.”
H. Luke Shaefer, associate dean for research and policy engagement, said the projects are what’s needed to “confront that legacy of racism in order to create a more equitable and just society.”
“These research projects will help us better understand how to do that important work,” he said.
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