Board meeting serves as public forum for many issues

By Kay Nguyen

A board of trustees meeting Tuesday proved to have a chock-full agenda that saw six guest speakers in addition to board consideration of planned agenda items.

The meeting was the first since November after February’s formal session was canceled due to a lack of necessary business.

After the consent agenda was approved, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost Virinder Moudgil made a recommendation to appoint physics professor Gopalan Srinivasan a distinguished faculty member.

“Dr. Gopalan Srinivasan is internationally recognized for his research in physics of magnetic and composite materials,” Moudgil said. “His work has led to significant civilian applications in consumer electronics as well international defense and homeland security.”

The motion was unanimously approved.

A new major of actuarial science was approved by the board as well after a brief presentation.

A new university gift policy was approved as well. It gives more specific guidelines to things like naming buildings, according to Susan Davies Goepp, vice president for university relations and executive director of the OU foundation.

Tim Larrabee, the LGBTQA Employee Resource Group chair, presented document packets and a speech before the board to ask for inclusive workplace policies.

Dean Julie Voelck and communication professor Shea Howell asked for student support at Monday’s OUSC meeting on behalf of Larrabee.

Because of this and a postcard campaign, many students donning buttons of support were in attendance.

Trustee Henry Baskin inquired as to what exactly Larrabee wanted out of the meeting today.

He provided a brief history of the LGBTQA ERG’s struggles on campus, which Larrabee said started in 2004 and are ongoing.

Student body president Kristin Dayag urged the board to support LGBTQ interests on campus, saying that it affected the entire school.

Saman Waquad, student body vice president, spoke along the same lines.

“One of the core values for Oakland University’s 2020 vision is diversity,” Waquad said. “Accessibility to the same opportunities and benefits regardless of one’s religion, race, culture, gender identity and expression is vital to ensuring a truly diverse environment.”

Both Dayag and Waquad agreed with Larrabee about increasing diversity to attract the best possible faculty by providing a welcoming atmosphere.

“When the rules governing an institution, especially one of higher education, do not explicitly state such inclusivity, it is imperative upon such an institution to step up to the plate to protect the rights of its community members,” Waquad said.

Director of university diversity and compliance Joi Cunningham anticipates policy will be changed by fall.

“I assure you, I am one who fully supports this. The university and I respect and value the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community as we do all members of this community,” President Gary Russi said.

Board of trustees chair Jacqueline Long said she’d like the board to look at the issue in a timely manner, which elicited cheers from the crowd.

John Roshek, president of the Michigan Open Carry campaign spoke in support of Michigan legislation that could allow for the carrying of concealed weapons on campus and did not want decisions to be ruled by “fear.”

Richard Feldman recalled the way he felt the day his son Micah Fialka-Feldman moved into OU housing and also voiced his feelings about the school’s appeal on the court decision regarding Fialka-Feldman.

After receiving information from a Freedom of Information Act request, he said he learned that the university has spent over $140,000 on the case.

Former AAUP spokesperson Joel Russell was the last to come before the board.

Speaking as a professor and member of the campus community, Russell addressed Russi directly about further opening lines of communication between faculty and administration.

He pointed out the idea of faculty liaisons to the board once again and stressed that Russi must come through on his November faculty forum promises as the faculty’s vote of no confidence will occur later this month.

The meeting adjourned shortly after.

The next formal session is scheduled for April 7 in the Elliott Hall Auditorium at 2 p.m.