CSG hears sustainability, coal divestment proposals

Sam Mousigian/Daily
LSA sophomore Joseph Hansel discusses the resolution to support the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor becoming a signatory on the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment at the CSG meeting on Tuesday. Buy this photo

By Samantha Wintner, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 17, 2015

The Central Student Government Assembly passed several resolutions at their meeting Tuesday evening, including a proposal to support additional off-campus lighting and the inclusion of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy on course syllabi.

The body also approved a proposal to support the creation of a committee that would consider the University’s investments and the potential of divesting from oil and coal companies.

During the meeting, the assembly also considered proposals to provide funding to MUSIC Matters and support the University’s participation in a climate change reduction program.

University sustainability efforts

The LSA Student Government’s Taking Responsibility for the Earth and Environment subcommittee presented a resolution to encourage the University and University President Mark Schlissel to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

The ACUPCC is an undertaking by a network of colleges and universities to address global climate change. Signatories pledge to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from certain campus operations and encourage institutions of higher learning to conduct research and educate society on how to better the climate.

LSA freshman Joseph Hansel, an LSA student government representative, spoke on behalf of the organization at the meeting Tuesday.

Hansel said for a university to join the network, it must agree to meet at least two of seven actions to reduce greenhouse gases as outlined by the ACUPCC. He said the University currently meets two of these tenets with certainty, and possibly a third.

“The tenets that we currently practice strongly are public transportation being available to all faculty, staff, visitors and students, along with our participation in Recyclemania,” Hansel said.

Recyclemania is a competition designed to bolster university recycling programs.

The Ohio State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley, are among more than 690 schools that have already signed the commitment.

“The ACUPCC does offer a network of different universities that we are in close contact with,” Hansel said. “We plan to work with all three of those schools to examine how we can take their sustainability practices and either amend them or apply them to our University to make us the most sustainable campus that we can be.”

He said CSG support for this initiative would show Schlissel that students are united in their support for campus sustainability, and would subsequently encourage him to sign the commitment.

The proposal was referred to the resolutions committee.

MUSIC Matters asks CSG for sponsorship

Business senior Darren Appel, MUSIC Matters president, also presented a resolution asking CSG to provide funding for the MUSIC Matters 2015 concert and SpringFest.

Since 2011, MUSIC Matters, one of the largest student organizations at the University, has planned a day of festivities in the spring to raise money for philanthropic initiatives. In the organization’s first three years, it raised $10,000 for C.S. Mott Children’s hospital, $50,000 for a need-based scholarship at the University and planned a leadership camp at the University for Detroit children.

Appel said the festival would unite the entire University campus.

“The idea behind SpringFest is that we have this decentralized campus — it allows everybody to come together for one day and sort of bring the campus and celebrate the University,” he said.

Several other campus student organizations will be involved in the event, which will include a “Shark Tank” pitch competition, a sustainability zone, live music, a fashion show and food trucks.

“This festival brings between 40 and 50 student organizations together and celebrates everything that they’ve accomplished in an interactive way to engage with the students,” Appel said.

In the resolution, MUSIC Matters requested a total of $8,000 from CSG — $4,000 from its Legislative Discretionary Account and $4,000 from its Sponsored Activities fund.

Appel said this amount would render CSG an official sponsor of the event; CSG gave MUSIC Matters $10,000 for its 2014 event.

The proposal was referred to the finance committee.

Old business

Not including the changes to its operating procedures, the CSG Assembly referred three proposals to the Rules Committee last week and voted on them at Tuesday’s meeting.

One of these calls for the University’s Board of Regents to form a committee to determine the propriety of the University’s investments in oil and coal, and ultimately make recommendations about the future of those investments.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Prof. George Kling spoke at the meeting on behalf of hundreds of scientists at the University and thousands of scientists worldwide who study climate change. He said many of his colleagues in finance argue that divesting from oil and coal industries would not have a significant impact on the University’s portfolio.

“The major events in history are driven by the passions of what’s right and wrong and not what makes business sense right at that moment,” he said.

CSG representatives who spoke in favor of passing the resolution said they felt the assembly should consider exploring the issue because members of the community had devoted so much time to the cause.

Other representatives expressed concern that making a decision related to divestment might signal to other campus organizations that CSG thinks promoting divestment is a good way to settle contentious issues on campus or that it is the best way to promote change.

Supporters responded that the resolution merely organizes a committee to evaluate the University’s investments, rather than advocating for one side or the other.

CSG also voted to pass a resolution proposed last week that will support the addition of new off-campus lighting in the Hill Street, Oxford Road and Geddes Avenue neighborhoods. Additionally, the assembly approved a proposal recommending the inclusion of the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy on course syllabi.