Statements regarding U-M regent comments

March 27, 2021

Members of the University of Michigan Board of Regents are elected by Michigan voters on a statewide ballot. The process for recalling a regent is under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office.

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U-M President Mark Schlissel shared the following statement:
March 27, 2021

A recent widely reported set of remarks by a member of the U-M Board of Regents does not represent the values or beliefs of the University of Michigan. I condemn any suggestion of violence against a duly elected state or federal official.

Such words are particularly abhorrent in a climate where so recently the use of language has engendered violence and attempted violence directed at elected officials, our democratic institutions, and the individuals who guard them.

It is never appropriate to raise the specter of assassination or perpetuate misogynistic stereotypes against anyone in any setting. Elected officials must adhere to a higher standard regardless of the context of their remarks.

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U-M Regent Ron Weiser shared the following statement:
March 27, 2021

In an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included. I fell short of that the other night.

I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I have never advocated for violence and never will.

While I will always fight for the people and policies I believe in, I pledge to be part of a respectful political dialogue going forward.”

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U-M Provost Susan M. Collins shared the following statement:
March 28, 2021

Below is a letter to Regent Ron Weiser, written by all of our women deans (and endorsed by the other deans). The letter has been shared with Regent Weiser.

I fully support the deans’ letter. I, too, found Regent Weiser’s remarks to be demeaning to women and contrary to the democratic values of our state and country.

Further, I am particularly concerned that his remarks were antithetical to our university’s focus on creating a culture that is based on shared values, and to our long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our speech and our behavior determine our culture (and vice versa). Leadership has a critical role to play in ensuring that we stand by our commitments.

As provost, I reaffirm that:

  • All members of our community can and should expect respect.  This most certainly includes women and those from marginalized groups.
  • Violent references and images are never acceptable ways to counter those with whom we disagree.

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Letter from U-M deans:
March 28, 2021

Dear Regent Weiser,

We are writing as the six women deans on the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus in protest of the comments that you made on Thursday at the North Oakland Republican Club meeting. We find your comments about elected leaders in the state of Michigan to be insulting, demeaning to women, and contrary to the democratic values of our state and country. While your remarks may have been motivated by your personal views, they are damaging to the community of the University of Michigan and the schools and colleges that we lead given your role as a regent.

Your words do damage and disrespect not only to women in leadership positions, whether elected or appointed, but also to young women who will lead in the future. We must speak out in protest when women are threatened with violence because of the decisions they have made. We believe that sexist name calling and threats of violence, especially from those in positions of power, simply are not acceptable. This is not a context-dependent question: they are not acceptable.

We feel strongly that your comments do not support the university’s and our units’ values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Nor do your comments support robust civil debate and democratic engagement. The latter point is particularly saddening and ironic because you have been a champion of democratic values through institutions you have supported on our campus.

Whether or not you are speaking in your official capacity as a regent, you remain a representative of the university, and you have a responsibility to the university community you lead.

We call on you to repair the serious harm you have caused.

In the interest of being supportive of our community members and upholding the values of the university, we are also sharing our views with our communities.

Anne Curzan
Dean, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Patricia Hurn
Dean, School of Nursing

Laurie McCauley
Dean, School of Dentistry

Elizabeth Birr Moje
Dean, School of Education

Lori Ploutz-Snyder
Dean, School of Kinesiology

Lynn Videka
Dean, School of Social Work

Signing in solidarity:

Michael S. Barr
Joan and Sanford Weill Dean, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

DuBois Bowman
Dean, School of Public Health

Roger D. Cone
Vice Provost and Director of the Biosciences Initiative
Mary Sue Coleman Director, Life Sciences Institute

Scott DeRue
Edward J. Frey Dean, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Thomas A. Finholt
Dean, School of Information

Alec D. Gallimore
Robert J. Vlasic Dean, College of Engineering

David Gier
Dean, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

James L. Hilton
Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
Dean of Libraries

David Lam
Director, Institute for Social Research

Jonathan Massey
Dean, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Bruce Mueller
Dean, College of Pharmacy

Gunalan Nadarajan
Dean, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design

Jonathan T. Overpeck
Samuel A. Graham Dean, School for Environment and Sustainability

Marschall Runge
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs
Dean, Medical School

Michael J. Solomon
Dean, Rackham School of Graduate Studies

Mark West
David A. Breach Dean, Law School

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Statement approved by Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs
March 29, 2021

The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA), the executive arm of the University of Michigan (Faculty) Senate, strongly rejects and condemns Regent Ron Weiser’s comments to the North Oakland Republican Club on March 26, 2021.

The Detroit News reported and published a video in which Regent Weiser can be heard calling, among other improper language, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Dana Nessel, the state attorney general; and Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state, the “three witches.”  In response to a question about supporting opponents who would run against Representatives Fred Upton and Peter Meijer (both voted in favor of impeaching former President Trump), Regent Weiser responded that “Other than assassination, I have no other way than voting them out.”

SACUA believes that the language used by Regent Weiser and the intention of such language altogether perpetuate misogynistic attitudes that continue to oppress women and girls while it incites and perpetuates violence. As an elected representative of the people of Michigan, and an incumbent in a leadership position at the University, Regent Weiser must uphold the University’s professed values of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and he must model responsible public behavior.

Disrespect of women and incitement to violence against elected officials is a betrayal of the trust our community – students, faculty and staff – places on Regent Weiser. SACUA believes strongly and without any hesitation that Regent Weiser cannot be an effective leader in our community.

Note: According to the Faculty Senate office 7,320 faculty members were given an opportunity to vote on the resolution. Of those, 1,837 participated in the vote, with 1,807 endorsing the statement and 30 voting no.