UM Regents Call April 2 Special Meeting

The University of Michigan board of regents has called a special meeting for Monday, April 2, 2012 in the boardroom of the Fleming administration building, 503 Thompson St. in Ann Arbor. The announcement was emailed to media on Saturday morning, March 31. No topic for the meeting was identified.

This is the third special meeting for the regents so far in 2012. Most recently, the board met on Feb. 21 – with all members participating via conference call – and voted 6-2 formally to oppose Senate Bill 971. The legislation, which was subsequently enacted, made explicit that graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) are not entitled to collective bargaining rights under Michigan’s Act 336 of 1947. The board’s two Republican regents – Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner – dissented.

That meeting included a vigorous debate about whether the meeting itself was legal. It was convened by invoking a rarely used regental bylaw that allows either the president or three regents to call a special meeting for emergency action. However, the meeting was apparently not publicly noticed 18 hours in advance, as required by the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

Nor did the regents appear to make an explicit decision on Feb. 21 in which 2/3 of them concurred that the legislation constituted an imminent threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the public. That’s another way the meeting could have conformed with the OMA. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Chronicle, for records demonstrating conformance with the OMA for the Feb. 21 meeting, the UM did not produce any records that provided evidence that the 18-hour noticing requirement was met, or that 2/3 of the regents believed that Senate Bill 971 constituted an imminent threat to public safety, health and welfare.

The other special meeting called this year was held on Feb. 8. The topic of the meeting was identified in advance: To approve the use of Michigan Stadium for the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic, which is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013. Regents were unanimous in their vote of approval on that item.