During summer 2020, U-M communicated a public health-informed reopening plan for on-campus and virtual learning in the fall. Meanwhile, many universities around the country - including MSU, about an hour away - announced plans for a totally virtual fall term to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between students. Long before the first van showed up for residence hall move-in day, some students, staff and faculty sought clarity on testing policies, noticed inconsistent execution, and many voiced worries that their concerns weren't being addressed. Fearful for safety and frustrated by slow communication with U-M leadership, the Graduate Employees' Organization and dozens of resident advisors went on strike, which pressured U-M administration from several directions and in ways not seen in decades. In this episode of the RC Podcast, students and faculty weigh in on the GEO and RA strikes and the demonstration of MDining staff that, collectively, led to important changes for the entire U-M Ann Arbor campus community. (Photo by RC student Cielle Waters-Umfleet)
Longstanding Faculty Retirements
Did you know that the Residential College has a pool of nearly 7,000 alumni, more than 1,000 of which live in SE Michigan? In December 2017, former RC Director and Professor, Tom Weisskopf, gave a gift to support alumni engagement and outreach efforts involving students at the Residential College. By January 2019, 112 donors contributed and ensured its establishment as an endowment.
Supported by this fund, the RC Alumni-Student Mentorship program was born in the fall of 2019, in which 15 alums were matched with 15 students for one-on-one mentorship over the 2019-2020 academic year. After the COVID-19 executive orders began, pairs adjusted to meet via online video conferencing, where they established supportive relationships through career advising and promoting approaches to student wellbeing. The second cohort of the program launched in September 2020 and expanded upon the first by pairing 26 alums with 26 students.
RC Staff and Student Highlights
RC Partner Program Updates
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners, presented by the Prison Creative Arts Project, which showcases and sells art from every correctional facility in Michigan.
The Center for World Performance Studies presents PERFORMING THE MOMENT, PERFORMING THE MOVEMENT, a virtual performer/scholar series this fall. The sessions are free and open to the public with registration required, and past videos are available to watch online.
Semester in Detroit offers two community-based public series this fall: "Policing Black Power - From Watts to Detroit", and "Healing Justice as Building Cultural Resilience", both of which welcome participation by the general public.
Fulgencio Lazo (pictured here in the RC Art Gallery) is a Zapotec/Mixtec artist based in Seattle and his hometown of Oaxaca, Mexico. Fulgencio was an Artist in Residence at the RC in fall 2019. For more than 26 years he has been working with museums, art centers and community groups to create “tapetes” or carpets of colored sand for Mexican Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. These installations are collaboratively designed and installed with community members over the course of several days. From September 30 to October 4, 2019, Fulgencio worked with U-M students and community members to design and create two tapetes, one in the RC Art Gallery (seen here) and one at the Ann Arbor District Library.
Elshafei Dafalla (pictured here with RC ceramics faculty member, Susan Crowell) was an artist in residence at the Residential College Art Gallery between October 28-November 1, 2019, working with RC students to realize new work for the exhibition "Blood Underwater". Elshafei used the gallery as a studio space, working primarily with pastels and canvas. He also gave lectures. Blood Underwater aimed to provide a voice for community members and activists, especially from political, national, racial, religious and other minorities, to express their concerns about global suffering through art. Participants gathered around a large canvas with paints and music and were guided through a series of artistic expressions by Elshafei, in a demand for “freedom, peace and justice” -- from San Salvador to Khartoum to Sindh -- and throughout the world.
RC Life in the Time of COVID-19
In episode 27, the RC Podcast explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people differently within the Residential College community, from a Resident Advisor, to a student studying abroad in Paris, to a student who remained in University Housing after East Quad's evacuation, to a member of the RC intensive language faculty. We investigate family ties, procrastination, the strangeness of seeing other people in real life, and dealing with anxiety during these "unprecedented times", all with humor and vulnerability.
Student-facilitated learning spaces at U-M: RC Forums
Episode 23 explores the RC Forums program, a fully student-initiated and peer-led learning space open to all U-M students that grants Residential College participants credit to learn about a topic like diversity in politics, feminism, art, and dance, without a faculty or staff member in the room. There are currently +/- 12 active forums, but students create new ones or retire legacy ones as their interests fluctuate.
The RC Social Theory & Practice Major (formerly RC Social Science)
In episode 22, the RC Podcast spotlights the RC Social Theory & Practice Major (STP), and how it gives U-M students the latitude to design their own interdisciplinary plan of study, culminating in innovative capstone projects like youth responses to gun violence, or land-based educational practices for people in diaspora. We talked with Mani (Ramin) Samei and Ruby Schneider, two RC STP students from the class of 2020, and STP faculty member Jane Lynch.