The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) stands in solidarity with La Casa and is in full support of their demands that the University of Michigan financially support the enrollment of low-income students of color through scholarship programs. The Provost Award, a scholarship program which functioned to support low-income students and students of color, was recently replaced with the Victor’s Award; the impact that this shift has had on Latinx student enrollment is dire. As La Casa’s statement indicates, Latinx student enrollment has declined this year even as overall incoming class size has increased. This is unacceptable. The University must honor its commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism by investigating this decline in enrollment and financially investing in recruiting and supporting the enrollment of students of color. The University’s austerity measures should not disproportionately impact students of color. President Mark Schlissel’s response, which dismissed La Casa’s concerns and refused further conversation, is also unacceptable and shows an unwillingness on the part of administration to take the needs of students of color seriously.
GEO understands this decline as one symptom of a larger web of issues that demonstrate how racism proliferates within the University, and we stand with La Casa, as well as the larger Students of Color Liberation Front, as they work to combat racism at the University of Michigan.
[Updated 2/5] GEO maintains La Casa’s message that the Victors Award does not adequately support low-income, out-of-state students. We demand that a meeting be set up with La Casa to seriously discuss the impact of the Victors Award. We also demand that data, if does exists, be released to corroborate claims that the disproportionate decrease of first-year Latinx, Black, and Native American students can be attributed mainly to COVID-19 and not the major financial policy switch from Provost Award to Victors Award.
BIPOC Caucus, GEO 3550