In Flint today, top scientists from all three University of Michigan campuses met to discuss future research into the city’s drinking water crisis.
U of M is putting up $100,000 in seed money to help get the research started. University President Mark Schlissel is encouraging scientists from Dearborn and Ann Arbor, as well as Flint, to see what kinds of research opportunities might be worth pursuing in the wake of the crisis.
U of M-Flint Chancellor Sue Borrego says now’s the time to coordinate work being conducted on Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.
“We have the opportunity here to begin to put together the infrastructure and research agendas that are going to impact this community and beyond,” says Borrego.
Inside the university system, some faculty members have questioned whether enough is being done to involve the Flint community in research decisions. They are circulating a letter complaining about a “lack of community engagement” before this week’s meeting at U of M-Flint.
The complicity that led to the current crisis includes the complete disregard for the concerns voiced by Flint residents over the course of two years. In order to serve the people of Flint, we must vigilantly work to dismantle the concentration of knowledge and power that created the Flint water crisis, and to ensure that the same denigrating and dismissive systems are not replicated through the University’s response. Flint residents must be integral to any research initiatives undertaken in and for their community.
Chancellor Borrego says the letter’s claims are “inaccurate."
Berrego says U of M-Flint officials have played an active role in assisting local groups since the crisis began.
She says the key question for all the work scientists will do is: “Can we also utilize that research on the ground?”