The University of Michigan Central Student Government convened Tuesday evening in the Michigan Union’s Wolverine Room to discuss resolutions introduced in their last meeting along with campus reactions to the Israel-Hamas war. This month, students showed their support for Palestine and Israel through vigils and protests across campus. During the meeting, students brought in flags and posters to represent their support.
Multiple community members spoke on the Israel-Hamas war during the Community Concerns portion of the meeting. Community members also expressed concern about a Central Student Judiciary ruling that a petition that received 1,000 signatures did not fit the regulations of CSG documentation due to CSG’s “procedural measures.” The petition calls on CSG to request “that the University and its Regents act on its claims to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion for its students by not erasing the pain and existence of the Palestinian community at the university.” It also states that the University must acknowledge the lives lost on both sides and “revisit its decision to not form a committee to investigate the ethics of its investments.”
Graduate Student Instructor Karthik Ganapathy addressed the Student Assembly, saying he and other GSIs have heard of threats both towards them and their students so they are afraid to voice their opinions about the war. Ganapathy also urged CSG to release a message addressing the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
“There are many, many individuals who are taking courageous actions and risking their own careers and their own lives sometimes,” Ganapathy said. “It’s very important that CSG supports these courageous individuals so that more and more are emboldened to speak up.”
Zackariah Farah, chair of the Ann Arbor Renters Commission, said he has received harassment because of people’s assumptions about his stance on the conflict.
“I was told that I would never find a job, that I had done something horribly racist, that I was sympathizing with terrorists, that my people were inferior,” Farah said. “(The harassers) wrongly thought that I was Palestinian.”
Farah also expressed disappointment in the petition failing to pass through the CSJ, especially as a previous board member on the LSA Student Government.
“I think it’s very interesting that of all the resolutions I’ve seen in my years in student government, this is the one that gets pulled and gets flagged,” Farah said.
LSA junior Rachel Cusnir spoke from her experience as a Jewish student on campus and said she felt scared for her safety on campus.
“I am personally scared to wear my name in Hebrew around my neck out of the fear that I will be called a Jewish terrorist,” Cusnir said. “I’m scared to say that I lived in Israel over the summer.”
LSA junior Sari Rosenberg also expressed her concerns about the campus climate during the ongoing war and encouraged students to try to empathize with each other.
“Students should not have to lose relationships with their peers, GSIs, professors and family members over a war,” Rosenberg said. “We would appreciate it if the campus can be used as a place of productive discourse and classrooms are supportive environments rather than a place of conflict and blame, as it sadly has become.”
Mario Thaqi, CSG Finance Committee chair, echoed many sentiments expressed during this section of the meeting. Thaqi said it was important to not shame groups of students and that students feel fear because of their stance on the ongoing conflict.
“I speak today in a shroud of fear that I may have job offers for both my family or myself (rescinded) or have personal information released to the public, or that I may be called a supporter of terrorism for my stance in supporting a ceasefire,” Thaqi said.
Thaqi also told students to not jeopardize each others’ safety.
“We cannot continue to demonize each other for having opinions we disagree with,” Thaqi said.
Following the Community Concerns section, CSG members introduced resolution AR 13-023, which gives CSG officials the power to request advisory opinions from the CSJ and its courts. The Student Assembly then voted on this resolution and resolutions AR 13-021 and AR 13-022, which were introduced in the previous CSG meeting. Both AR 13-022 and AR 13-023, and AR 13-021 was referred back to the Rules and Finance Committees.