Rackham voters support secession from CSG

By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 29, 2012

After suffering a defeat in the courtroom Tuesday night, the Central Student Government took a second blow early Friday morning after the referendum it fought to keep off the ballot showed that a majority of students who voted in Rackham Student Government’s election support pursuing secession from CSG.

RSG reported that 9.5 percent of Rackham students, approximately 800 students, voted in the election, with 719 students voting on the referendum. Of those voters, 69 percent supported pursuing secession.

While 9.5 percent of students equates to roughly 1 in 10 Rackham students voting, only 6.4 percent of LSA students and 4.2 percent of Engineering students voted in their school's student government elections this week.

Of the four divisions within Rackham Graduate School, only students in the Arts and Humanities division did not support secession, with 18 students voting in favor and 52 students voting against the measure.

On Tuesday, with RSG’s election already a day underway, RSG defended its ballot question after CSG filed an injunction against RSG on Nov. 21. The suit addressed the ballot question as well as additional issues, and the injunction was separated, meaning a second hearing will take place in the near future to address less-timely issues listed on the injunction.

However, portions of the suit arguing that the non-binding question should be kept off the ballot were dismissed by the CSJ after a three-hour hearing.

While the ballot question was submitted by RSG and secession has been spearheaded by the graduate student body, others are also in favor of its secession.

Law student Liz Och, the president of the Law School Student Senate, said in an October interview she favored looking into creating an all-graduate student government.

“(It) could possibly better meet the needs of our students than the current system does,” she said.

She added that Law students are often several years older than undergraduate students, some have families and very few utilize on-campus housing.

“In terms of regular day-to-day issues that are faced by undergrads, we don’t experience a lot of those,” she said.

Och, who is also pursuing a master’s degree through the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, said an all-graduate student government could foster more collaboration between the graduate schools.

“It’s not really about the money,” Och said. “Obviously the money is important, but I think that it’s more the sense of community that should come from having a smaller graduate student government that’s more focused around what (Law School students) … actually care about.”

In addition to gauging student interest in secession, the election also resulted in the selection of 12 RSG board members.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated the Engineering Council elections' turnout.