Academic senate discusses U.S. congress tax bill, passes resolution to replace "Columbus Day" on CMU calendar
Academic Senators expressed resistance to a bill in the U.S. Congress which could affect graduate students and their research on campus during a meeting Nov. 21.
H.R. 1, the House Republican tax reform bill, was passed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee on Nov. 16.
Critics of the bill say it could leave many middle-to-low-income graduate students unable to enter and complete their programs.
H.R.1 repeals the tuition waiver tax exemption for graduate students teaching and assisting in research at universities.
Melinda Kreth, chairperson of the English Language and Literature department, said graduate students would pay a tax on any benefits received through the university and a social security tax.
Kreth described the bill as a “financial whammy” hitting both the university and its higher level students.
Provost Michael Gealt said multiple areas of the bill could negatively affect the CMU community.
Senator Kirsten Nicholson, of the Biology department, proposed a resolution declaring the university’s formal opposition to the bill.
She said resistance is crucial for not only the teaching and research needed on campus, but for nurturing future leaders throughout the nation.
The resolution was passed unanimously by the Academic Senate.
Gealt said if people in the audience felt strongly about the proposed tax bill, it would behoov them to contact their senator and congressional representative to make a formal complaing.
In additionto the resolution, senator Mary Senter of the sociology, anthropology and social work department questioned President George Ross regarding CMU’s budget deficit during Spring 2017.
“I’ve written you three times asking for information on how last year’s budget deficit was resolved,” she said.
In the spring, CMU projected a two-year $20 million budget deficit with imminent staff layoffs and cuts.
Senter brought up how 24 CMU employees were predicted to be laid off and only 13 were let go.
“There are about 2,755 people who work at Central Michigan University. What I reported to the board in September was that budgets are estimates,” Ross said. “They’re fluid and they change.”
Gealt mentioned that CMU’s accreditation review is fast approaching.
“Last week we got a letter from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), asking us to select some possible dates for our fourth year Assurance Review,” Gealt said.
The HLC is a nonprofit organization that grants regional accreditation requirements for universities and colleges in the central area of the U.S.
The review determines whether a university continues to meet the criteria for accreditation.
Peer reviewers will analyze the university’s tendencies, advancements and structure.
“Dates will be coming up in two years,” Gealt said, warning faculty that reviewing tasks will take an immense amount of time.
The senate also unanimously passed a resolution presented by the Student Government Association that will replace “Columbus Day” with “Indigenous People’s Day” on the official CMU calendar.