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Central Student Government passes diversity proposal after revisions

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Kinesiology senior Jared Hunter speaks about the Dream Scholarship during the CSG meeting in the Michigan Union Tuesday. Buy this photo

By Michael Sugerman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 12, 2014

One week after the Central Student Government backed the Black Student Union and its calls for campus inclusion in a CSG Assembly resolution, the BSU decided to modify its support of the legislation.

Tuesday’s CSG Assembly meeting involved nearly two hours of debate regarding the resolution, which addressed minority student enrollment, the creation of a Dream Scholarship for undocumented students and official student government support of student activism directed toward increased diversity on campus. After a number of amendments, the resolution was passed.

LSA senior Chris Mays, an LSA representative in the Assembly, was one of a handful of representatives who wanted the resolution to be split into more than one bill for the sake of goal specificity. The BSU also backed this move and withdrew their support for the original, more encompassing resolution.

After meeting with Business senior Shayla Scales, a BSU member, Mays proposed amendments to strike the inclusion of BSU’s seven demands from the resolution, in addition to removing the BSU name from a line mentioning the “new student movement against racism on campus.” These changes were per the requests of BSU representatives in attendance.

“(The BSU) decided it was best to focus on more constructive language that helped the wording within the current legislation to help enroll African-Americans of deserved stature into the University of Michigan,” Mays said.

Rackham student Samuel Molnar, a CSG representative who co-authored the resolution, said BSU’s withdrawal of support was a detriment to the bill but not a coincidence.

“The point of this is to get all these (student) groups to be allies and I think that we’re going to be a lot stronger if we can stick together,” Molnar said. “The schism between these groups is not new and it’s not by accident, it’s meant to keep us from building a real, strong movement.”

Mays’ amendment was one of roughly 10 to the resolution, five of which were passed.

One amendment added Native Americans and Native Alaskans to minority groups in need of more representation on the University campus.

CSG President Michael Proppe moved to change a line that originally stated, “… and be it further resolved that CSG defends the right of minority and anti-racist students to speak the plain truth about racism …” to “CSG defends the right freedom of speech for all students.”

Molnar said this wasn’t a worthwhile rewrite.

“This isn’t a resolution about free speech, it’s a resolution about racism,” Molnar said. “Should we defend to the free speech of students to be racist?”

Eventually, this language changed to say “CSG defends the right of all students to speak the plain truth about racism,” avoiding the problem of free speech but including the entire student body rather than restricting the resolution to minorities.

Public Policy junior Carly Manes, an LSA representative in the Assembly and the 2014 forUM presidential candidate, suggested an amendment stating “the CSG assembly requests that the president of CSG shall express his support for this resolution at the next regent meeting.” This amendment was passed as well.

Prior to discussing the resolution, speakers from The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, asked CSG to declare direct support for 10-percent minority enrollment, a policy that BAMN claimed the University promised to achieve over 40 years ago.

BAMN members in attendance included a University alum, current University students and several high school students mostly from the Detroit area.

Mays said that the focus on overturning Michigan’s ban on affirmative action ban would reward BAMN’s “past behavior,” which he labeled as aggressive and not worthy of merit. Mays added that affirmative action should have a resolution to itself, separate from the BSU’s more attainable goals.

Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell, CSG vice president, reminded the assembly that while a well-formed proposal supporting diversity was important, representatives needed to keep the feasibility of new initiatives in perspective as a student-based organization.

“It’s very effective to work with the administration with active action plans that we at CSG can do, and not necessarily take positions on national policy issues that aren’t going to be decided here in this room,” Dishell said.

Now, the resolution will head to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and eventually to E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs.