Central Student Government met Tuesday night to discuss their Black History Month social media initiative, ongoing disciplinary proceedings against a U-M law professor and a proposal for a $15/hr minimum wage for student workers.
The assembly began by unanimously confirming Sarah Salino as Deputy Commissioner for Outreach and Caroline Theuerkauf as Deputy Commissioner for Events and Finance.
Engineering junior Zaynab Elkolaly began the community concerns segment of the meeting by updating the assembly on resolution drafts. Among the drafts currently underway is a resolution to form an undergraduate student workers’ union. Elkolaly also discussed the initiative to add “Middle Eastern” and “North African” as self-identification options on all University forms and documents.
Law student Deborah Rookey discussed the ongoing disciplinary proceedings against Professor Laura N. Beny. Rookey said she believes these proceedings unfairly discriminated against Beny, who is one of only two tenured Black women at the Law School and a single mother.
“She’s made statements that make us believe that she has been forced to bring her child to school when the child had a COVID exposure, that she’d been punished for teaching classes on Zoom when there are multiple professors that have taught all their classes on Zoom due to health concerns, and that she is no longer comfortable on the U of M campus,” Rookey said. “We don’t know exactly what’s happening but that is because the administration has been extremely opaque.”
Engineering junior Maria Fields expressed concerns over CSG’s Black History Month initiative and criticized the lack of participation from other assembly members.
“While these conversations are important…we have this one opportunity where we can actually uplift Black people,” Fields said. “and you just see this lack of involvement.”
LSA sophomore Allan VanZandt replied to Fields, saying the lack of success of the Black History Month initiative should not be attributed to the racism or general apathy of CSG members but rather to the fact that the project was hastily put together with little room for assembly member input in the process.
“It could be interpreted as there’s a callous amount of apathy being displayed by the membership of the assembly and by the membership of (CSG) in general,” VanZandt said. “But I think that given the hasty way that this project has been thrown together, I don’t necessarily see how that can be placed as a (negative) on anybody for doing work.”
Multiple assembly members requested to be added to the list of community concerns in response to VanZandt’s comments, at which point the assembly unanimously agreed to open up community concerns into an informal discussion for all members to partake in.
Public Health senior and CSG President Nithya Arun reaffirmed CSG’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“CSG not only has an obligation to advocate for anti-racism efforts but to celebrate the accomplishments of Black people over time,” Arun said. “I’m just kind of appalled at the fact that we are still having a discussion or debate—this is not a debate.”
Elkolaly also expressed her frustration with the ongoing discussion.
“We have Black women literally spelling out, ‘this is how to advocate for us,’ and we’re still sitting here discussing this for an hour,” Elkolaly said.
The assembly moved on to discuss resolution AR 11-065, which asks the University administration to enact a $15/hr minimum wage for student workers. The assembly heard from the resolution’s sponsors who emphasized the value of raising the minimum wage.
LSA senior Joseph Lobodzinski, co-sponsor of the resolution and CSG vice speaker, mentioned that this past summer, the Board of Regents approved an extension of the University’s $15/hr minimum wage to all temporary non-student workers, meaning student workers are being paid less than their non-student counterparts for performing the same jobs.
LSA sophomore Jarek Schmanski, another co-sponsor of the resolution, said this extension emphasizes how student workers play a critical role in University operations but receive little support in return.
“If they were not working, they could spend more time being involved in activities, developing themselves professionally, finding internships, advancing their career, even just studying for exams,” Schmanski said. “So they’re the ones most affected, yet the University does not support them.”
The sponsors then moved to bring the resolution to a vote. The resolution passed unanimously.
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