CSG member resigns with impassioned speech, assembly seeks to revise election code

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 11:10pm

CSG members vote on a resolution to specify CSG election code laws in the Michigan Union Tuesday.

CSG members vote on a resolution to specify CSG election code laws in the Michigan Union Tuesday. Buy this photo
Haley McLaughlin/Daily

 

The University of Michigan's Central Student Government met Tuesday evening to address issues regarding anti-Semitism on campus, University efforts to transfer to clean energy sources and further revisions to the CSG election code. Additionally, the assembly continued their discussion regarding improved sexual assault prevention training and appointed several new student representatives. Before agenda items were considered, however, Business junior Lauren Ward announced her resignation from the assembly due to issues of inclusion. 

Ward referenced a previous virtual confrontation between her and a fellow CSG member, but did not disclose who was involved in this dispute. 

“I would feel remiss in my resignation from Central Student Government if I didn’t at least tell you all why I’ve chosen to leave this poisonous position,” Ward said. “What are we doing? Not just representatives, but CSG as a whole?”

Ward ran as a representative on the eMerge campaign last spring — the ticket made history when president Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, and vice president Nadine Jawad, a Ford senior, became the first women of color elected together since at least 1993. eMerge emphasized boosting representation of marginalized communities through student government. Ward, said, however, she often felt alienated as a Black woman on the assembly. 

“It’s been evident that [students of color] have historically been silenced due to efforts of other members,” Ward said. “I can personally attest to this, as I’ve had my own alarming experience with this, proving it’s true.”

Following the meeting, Speaker Alexandra Contis, an LSA Senior, addressed Ward’s resignation in an email statement to The Daily, citing interpersonal conflict between both parties. Contis said she alerted the Division of Public Security and Safety after a text message she received from Ward.  

“The morning after the November 28 Assembly meeting in which Lauren Ward and I had a heated exchange, I received a threatening text message from Lauren,” Contis wrote. “Because of the nature of the text and because I was in a university building at the time, DPSS was called on my behalf.”

The Daily could not confirm a corresponding report on the DPSS crime log before or after Nov. 29. CSG communications director Cassie Fields, an LSA senior, provided The Daily with the alleged texts Ward sent Contis.

With elections for next year’s CSG officers and representatives commencing this semester, much of the meeting addressed current problems regarding the election process and the need to make changes promptly. Proposed changes would clarify ambiguity in the assembly's constitution. 

Kinesiology junior Okpalefe Edevbie emphasized the importance of ensuring CSG elections reflect the values and reputation of the organization.

“It’s important as an assembly that we start having an open, honest, discussion about CSG elections,” Edevbie said. “The behavior I’ve witnessed falls short of the integrity and character of this institution, and it’s not representative of the values and ideas of this assembly.”

LSA sophomores Sierra Stephens and Isabel Baer then presented a resolution to support mandatory consent and mutual respect training for incoming University theatre and film students. Stephens said drama, film and theatre students encounter many classroom experiences in which they may feel discomfort or non-consensual activity, which reinforces the need for supplementary training in order to avoid sexual misconduct between students.

“It is unacceptable for a student to feel uncomfortable or unsafe in their learning environment,” Baer said. “We pride ourselves on being a community of scholars, but it’s impossible to learn in an environment without respect or consent.”

The assembly concluded the meeting by proposing an emergency meeting to vote on amendments regarding revisions of the election code, helping to ensure a smooth election process in the coming months. The emergency meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.