This November election, Michiganders will not only decide who the next president is going to be, but also who will be appointed to the Wayne State Board of Governors.
Members of the BOG serve eight-year terms and every two years, two seats are up for re-election. Green Party candidates, Margaret Guttshall and Fran Shor, aim to bring change for the students, faculty and administration.
A seat on the BOG is an unpaid public office position where members listen to issues brought up regarding the university. Additionally, a majority of the board members name the president.
The president then presides over the BOG meetings and the university carries out the policies established by the board.
“The BOG is largely an advisory position,” Green Party Chairman Fred Vitale says. “The board hears issues we have to deal with as a community, and as WSU, being an important community institution of not just Detroit, but all of Michigan.”
WSU Professor Emeritus Fran Shor and former WSU law librarian Margaret Guttshall said they present a Green Party platform that looks to change the university experience for students of all walks of life, especially minorities.
“I want to stop tuition increases [and] I want good pay and benefits for all employees,” Guttshall says. “I want to address the problems of institutional racism, which is really large here at Wayne State, and I support all efforts to reduce the U.S. Military budget.”
Guttshall first became affiliated with WSU in 1976 when she was 26 years old. She moved to Detroit several years after being kicked out of the University of Chicago in 1968.
“Luckily, or unluckily, I participated in a sit-in and got kicked out because the sit-in was so effective and was one of hundreds of students who were kicked out,” she says.
Upon moving to Detroit, Guttshall began working as a mail clerk in the WSU law library in 1976. She says she eventually found another job, but returned to working in the law library when she became a student in 2000, serving as a file clerk until being promoted to a reference clerk.
Guttshall attended WSU’s School of Library and Information Science program from 2000 to 2003.
Although Guttshall hoped to become a law librarian here at WSU, she instead became one at Cooley Law School at Western Michigan University upon graduation.
Emeritus history professor Francis Shor retired from WSU two years ago after teaching at the university for 40 years.
Shor spent 30 years teaching in a program called the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies.
The DIS was an undergraduate and graduate program for disenfranchised students, mainly African American and working adults, who were unable to take regular classes.
“We often had places more convenient for [these students], centers that the university ran, and had class once a week in large and long seminars,” Shor says.
The BOG terminated the department in 2007, citing massive financial loss. Shor was the chair of the master’s program within the DIS. The cancellation of the DIS is one of the main reasons that Shor says he is running.
“Their logic is that these students weren’t full-time and, therefore, don’t get compensated by the state,” Shor says. “We need more programs like that instituted.”
Shor says DIS graduated African Americans at a much higher rate than under traditional conditions here at WSU.
Shor taught mainly humanities in his time at the DIS, but has taught U.S. history and post-World War II history. He’s also developed courses such as "History of the U.S. Empire" and "Utopian Studies."
Additionally, he has published three books and coordinated the National Labor History Conference hosted by WSU.
In reference to how he perceives the board’s current operations, Shor says, “I’ll be a watchdog, not a lapdog.”
If elected, both Shor and Guttshall say they will try to raise critical awareness of student loan debt, accessibility for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, adult education and fight administrative bloat.
“Students have their whole future ahead of them and the WSU BOG is having a decisive say on what the students' future is going to be. My understanding is students are very optimistic about the future,” Guttshall says.
“The BOG can change right now. They can make a move to remove student debt. Instead of hiring more administrators, they can use the power of Wayne State to not just bail out the bankers, but bail out the students.”