By HARSHAL BHOSALE, Student Life Editor

University of Michigan-Dearborn students had an opportunity on Wednesday, March 22 to talk with Chancellor Daniel Little over lunch. Dr. Little extends this privilege to all students every month, providing a forum to discuss current events and significant trending topics.

This month’s luncheon started with a usual round-the-table introduction, establishing camaraderie and networking among the attendees. The chancellor’s keen eye and sharp retention was not missed as he identified several students from past luncheons, adding anecdotes from his various experiences around the world to their introductions. He then suggested everyone to come up with one challenging assignment that they have been working on as part of their academic work.

Priyal Sheth, a master’s automotive engineering student, shared his experience of a highly technical automated gearshift change algorithm problem to enable precise gear selection in multiple traffic scenarios, which taught him to appreciate the real-world application of the concepts taught by his professor in class.

Samidha Kashettiwar, a College of Business student studying business analytics, outlined the challenges of data mining and systemic application of customer voices for factoring into business decisions, particularly quantifying and analysing customer sentiments from thousands of survey responses. Dr. Little correlated this to the data analysis of social media posts like tweets, whereby there is ongoing research into the problems of evaluating political polarization (for example, nobody would dish out figures saying “I’m a 0.7 Democrat or a -0.7 Republican”). He mentioned that the School of Information at Ann Arbor is working rigorously on such problems.

As the conversation flowed naturally from one person to another, Machhadie Assi, a pre-law student, raised the issue of decreasing student participation in events organized by various student organizations. She believes that assigning academic importance (such as, say, a five percent grade weightage) to student participation in extracurricular events could be a potential solution, which was debated upon with various for-and-against arguments by those present.

Another participant, Ramachandran Ganesh, highlighted the necessity of increased operation days for the International Shuttle service, which would enable students to access the library on weekends, which they aren’t currently able to do.

These and other conversations raised many significant issues from diverse perspectives, and also enabled the attendees to receive the chancellor’s advice on the same, such as his suggestion to submit a proposal to Ray Metz, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Life, and Jeff Evans, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs, for the issue concerning shuttle service for commuting students.

His earlier comments on inclusiveness and diversity also sent out a positive message to the student community, when he mentioned that although it has been challenging to maintain inclusiveness and a respectful, welcoming environment in our country since the past six months, UM-Dearborn is focused on cultivating values that enable a sense of being part of the community and help build the internal motivation to make people contribute to social causes and to other communities.