Senate Assembly seeks to rescind felony-disclosure policy
The University of Michigan Senate Assembly is asking the administration to rescind a policy that requires current university employees to disclose felony charges and convictions. Senate Assembly members cited various concerns with Standard Practice Guide Policy 601.38, including the belief that it causes unfair scrutiny of already vulnerable people, before voting Jan. 24 to “rescind” it. While the Senate Assembly doesn’t have the power to rescind the policy, the university’s executive officers do. They issued the SPG three years ago, and it is scheduled for review Feb. 1. “We wanted to make sure we had the chance to voice our concerns as faculty before it goes up for renewal,” Senate Assembly Chair Allen Liu said. SPG 601.38 requires faculty, staff, student employees, volunteers and visiting scholars to notify the university within one week of being charged with or convicted of a felony. Read more about the policy and the Senate Assembly resolution. A longer version of this story is available online.
Telehealth services for the elderly should include caregivers
Family caregivers are often involved in the day-to-day activities of their older relatives, such as communicating with doctors, helping them navigate the health care system and making decisions that affect their care. But when the pandemic hit, forcing health care systems to switch to telehealth visits, many of the caregivers that would have been involved in in-person care were left out of the process, according to a new observational study published in the Annals of Family Medicine. For their study, researchers recruited participants from the U-M Institute for Clinical and Health Research between May 1 and June 30, 2020. In all, 90 participants completed the 10-minute survey. Caregivers reported that among others, the benefits of telehealth included increased access to health care, limiting risk exposure to COVID-19, and improving the relationship and rapport between older relatives and care providers. Read more about this study.
Neighborhoods play important role in older adults’ pandemic experience
How have older adults adjusted to living under the pandemic? There’s no one-size-fits-all experience, according to University of Michigan researchers. In spring and summer 2020, U-M researchers Jessica Finlay and Lindsay Kobayashi launched a study to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed neighborhood environments and the way older adults age in place. They found that some older adults reported less social interaction and diminished relationships with their neighbors, while others reported more. Some older adults experienced less social support from their neighbors, while others felt they experienced more support from their neighbors. Some people’s neighborhoods became totally quiet during the pandemic, while other neighborhoods bloomed with outside happy hours, children playing in front yards, and residents walking and biking in the neighborhood. To examine how older adults are living under the pandemic, 6,886 participants completed an online survey in April and May 2020, and then monthly follow-up surveys. Read more about this study.
UM-Dearborn launches DEI climate survey for the campus
UM-Dearborn has launched a survey to determine what it is doing right when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion and to become aware of areas where more attention is needed. The campus is partnering with SoundRocket — an independent, third-party, research and survey methodology company — to administer a diversity, equity and inclusion climate survey to the campus community. “We are committed to building and nurturing an inclusive and equitable environment, and this climate survey will help us better understand our landscape and make informed decisions moving forward,” said Chancellor Domenico Grasso. The survey, which was sent to campus email addresses Jan. 19, is a follow-up to a 2016-17 DEI climate survey and will ask UM-Dearborn students and university employees about their perspectives, opinions and experiences related to diversity, equity and inclusion at UM-Dearborn.
Project tackles issues of fair representation in arts and data
Sophia Brueckner, associate professor of art and design, of information and of the Digital Studies Institute, has long known that small things can make a big impact. However, the fact really hit home for her recently through her work with the ongoing research project, “Fair Representation in Arts and Data.” In the last year, she’s been part of a team of U-M researchers who used popular face-detection algorithms designed to distinguish a variety of factors — including gender and race — to analyze the entire collection at the U-M Museum of Art. “We’re trying to draw parallels between bias and exclusion in the museum world and bias and exclusion in technology,” Brueckner said. Funded by the U‑M’s Arts Initiative, the year-long collaboration between data scientists, artists and museum curators has focused on exploring how bias is present and problematic, the process where bias happens, and if they could recognize trends in the diversity of UMMA’s collection.
— Compiled by James Iseler and Ann Zaniewski, The University Record