The University of Michigan Central Student Government convened Tuesday night to discuss the status of the Ann Arbor City Council legal battle regarding early leasing ordinances. The Assembly also passed a resolution endorsing a faculty motion on the University’s sexual misconduct policy for the Oct. 4 Senate Assembly meeting.
The meeting began with a resolution titled “Continued Support for the Early Leasing Ordinance,” which condemns landlords who have signed onto a recent lawsuit against the City of Ann Arbor and asks them to be removed from the off-campus housing website Beyond the Diag.
City Council passed changes to the Early Leasing Ordinance earlier this summer, requiring landlords to wait at least 150 days instead of the previous 70 days before beginning to show properties to new prospective tenants. The Washtenaw Area Apartment Association, a non-profit organization representing rental property owners, filed a lawsuit against the city Sept. 10 in an attempt to overturn the changes.
CSG Vice President Carla Voigt, an Engineering junior, began discussion around the resolution by highlighting the previous work CSG did in collaboration with the Graduate Employees’ Organization and LSA Student Government in support of the changes to the Early Leasing Ordinance.
“A group of Ann Arbor landlords and leasing companies have banded together to sue the city for this,” Voigt said. “And essentially this resolution is continuing our support and is talking about the lawsuit and says that these companies should be removed from the ‘Beyond the Diag’ website.”
Voigt said the resolution asks for the University to include the leasing company or landlord on Beyond the Diag and to add a rating service to the website. Additionally, the resolution requests that any leasing companies which signed onto the lawsuit against the city be removed from Beyond the Diag.
LSA senior Elena Swirczek said she was concerned removing the companies from Beyond the Diag could impair the clarity of the website.
“While I appreciate the sentiment of (removing companies), I am worried that that could possibly just create less transparency and students won’t know what is going on,” Swirczek said. “Especially those that aren’t particularly well-versed in the internal politics of Ann Arbor.”
Voigt then reiterated that she wanted the Assembly to advocate for this resolution and addressed the safety concerns of students using companies which have been removed from the website. She said they plan to talk to the director of Beyond the Diag about implementing these changes.
“I feel like (the rental companies) should not be supported by the University while they’re being predatory,” Voigt said.
The resolution was referred back to the Communications and Resolutions Committees for further discussion on supporting advocacy in diminishing housing inequity in Ann Arbor.
At the meeting, the Assembly also approved a resolution to support a motion on making changes to the University’s sexual misconduct policy being brought forth by faculty during a Senate Assembly meeting this upcoming Monday.
The motion asks the University to adopt recommendations from the investigation into former provost Martin Philbert, who was removed from his role after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
When a search committee of a faculty or staff member is required, the recommendations ask the University to obtain written certification from committee members saying that all known information about the case has been disclosed and to document decisions on disciplinary action. The recommendations also ask the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office to reference any reports on prior allegations while investigating allegations against an individual.
The motion also requests that the University form a committee made up of sexual misconduct survivors by Philbert as well as Robert Anderson, a former athletic doctor who has been alleged to have sexually abused hundreds between the 1960s and early 2000s; Walter Lasecki, who resigned in August due to sexual misconduct allegations; and Bruce Conforth, who also had several sexual misconduct allegations arise against him. This committee would create an additional set of policies to present to the Board of Regents.
LSA sophomore Karthik Pasupula, who is sponsoring the resolution, said a student approached him about bringing this resolution to the Assembly.
“(The student was) pursuing a faculty motion to propose recommendations to the changes and sexual misconduct policies that the University recently made,” Pasupula said. “(This is) because (the University wasn’t) centering on the right priorities, and they weren’t operating in the proper way.”
Pasupula said though he feels CSG should endorse the motion, they should not be the main organization advocating for the changes.
“I just don’t want CSG to be the main driver behind it,” Pasupula said. “We should be in a stance where we’re supporting it, not where we are the main pushers.”
On this issue, Swirczek said she felt it was CSG’s responsibility to both endorse and encourage the resolution.
“To me, (passing this resolution) seems like we’re making it clear to people in the administration that we are endorsing (the motion) and it is something that we care about,” Swirczek said.
Despite conflicting opinions, the Assembly passed this resolution.
Daily Staff Reporter Brooke Halak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.