Davies, board of trustees respond to shooting at MSU
The CMU Board of Trustees opened its Feb. 16 meeting with a moment of silence to recognize the loss of life at Monday’s shooting at Michigan State University.
“We will continue to offer support to students, faculty and staff,” President Bob Davies said. “Emergencies like this raise questions about emergency preparedness. I want to assure you that CMU does have the processes in place to respond to a shooting incident.”
Responding to MSU shooting
Davies said he was proud of the university’s response to the shooting at MSU, and said campuses need to be safe to be effective.
“The American university stands for a place where people come to engage one another and they come to learn from one another,” Davies said. “They come to embrace others, even if they don’t agree with them, and that’s part of the American university’s role as a quote unquote ‘marketplace of ideas.'
"For the American university to be successful in that – to be the place where students come to pursue their aspirations and dreams, to learn what their dreams and aspirations are – it’s got to be a place where you feel comfortable, where you feel safe.”
Chair Isaiah Oliver said two words explain his reaction to how CMU students responded to the shooting. He praised the Student Government Association's leadership at the solidarity gathering and vigil.
“I was thankful, and I was proud,” Oliver said. “I was thankful to SGA for organizing and showing the campus community – and the broader community – our commitment to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, family and friends at MSU. I was also so proud of the tremendous work CMU’s campus community did in providing compassionate spaces for students and faculty and staff to have an honest reckoning with (the shooting).”
Davies said the protocols in response to a similar emergency at CMU are constantly in review.
“A year does not go by in which we do not reflect on them, practice them,” Davies said. “That we do not tweak them and see how they can be done better this year.”
Oliver said that the university’s response in creating a space for students, staff and faculty to cope is an important first step in moving forward.
“As a father of four, acknowledging the sympathy that we have for those folks that were lost and the impacts on their families – that is action," Oliver said. "I’d imagine if any of them saw the news last night and they saw CMU students that they never met before acknowledging the loss and sympathy needed at this time, that is action.”
The board "has the expectation of the president and his team to create a physically safe and mentally safe environment" for the campus, Oliver said.
"That is the vision," Oliver said. "We're looking for (Davies) to enact policy that will support that belief."
Executive Director of University Communications Ari Harris said people can use CMU's Get Ready and Take Action webpage to learn about procedures in case of active shooters, bomb threats and other emergencies.
Davies said it is sad that students have to know how to respond to an active shooter.
"When I was a kid ... we had fire drills," Davies said. "Now, many high schools are doing active shooter drills – and the concept of run, hide, fight – students have probably heard that how many times? A lot of our students are already coming – and it's sad to say – they're already coming with a lot of that training."
The board also heard updates from the Feb. 15 committee meetings.
During the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting new enrollment numbers were shared. Below is a breakdown of the changes, provided by Harris:
- Spring 2023 enrollment is 18% higher than Spring 2022.
- First-year college student enrollment is higher, with a 4.5% increase in applications, a 26% increase in deposits and 30% increase in housing deposits.
- For transfer students, applications are up by 11%, admissions are up 13%, deposits are up by about 12% and housing deposits are up by 60%.
The Trustee-Student Liaison Committee meeting, represented by Trustee Regine Beauboeuf, was cancelled Feb. 15 so the committee could attend a vigil lead by students. During the general board meeting Feb. 16, Beauboeuf recognized the efforts of the Student Government Association in response to the MSU shooting.
“We appreciate their leadership, their thoughtfulness and their compassion,” Beauboeuf said.
The Trustee-Faculty Liaison Committee, represented by Vice Chair Sharon Heath, said they enjoyed the presentation by Kevin Campbell on the growth of CMU’s drone program.
“Drones are obviously here to stay, and we enjoyed learning about their history,” Heath said.
After Campbell’s presentation, members of the committee also had an opportunity to fly drones in Finch Fieldhouse. Heath said this was a fun opportunity.
President’s Report and Updates
A portion of time at the beginning of the meeting was given to Davies to give some general updates on international student health insurance, enrollment rates and the ongoing strategic planning process.
On the topic of international student health insurance, Davies referenced the ad hoc committee intended to review student concerns. The committee includes, but is not limited to, international students and faculty and the staff that work with them.
Last semester, the university implemented the requirements for international students to have health insurance because the International Student Organization brought it to his attention that CMU was one of the only schools in Michigan that didn’t already have that as a requirement.
According to University Communications, the health insurance plans have since filled $149,348 in claims.
Davies also said that the strategic planning process is underway, and the university is looking for input from students, staff and faculty.
For the last five years of his tenure as university president, Davies had a five-year strategic plan implemented to outline goals and visions for CMU. Now that those years are up, the planning process begins again.
At the current stage, members of planning committees are looking for input, and there are a couple different ways they’re going about getting it.
First, Davies said that in the near future students will be seeing QR codes posted around campus, which will take them to a link to an opinion survey if scanned on a smartphone.
There are also two upcoming listening sessions for the campus to learn and asking questions about the plan. A student-only session will be at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 in Biosciences 1010. A session for students, faculty and staff will be at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 in the Bovee UC Auditorium.
Another access point for the survey is through the strategic planning website.