Central Student Government passes resolution aiming to protect Muslim students on campus

LSA senior Cooper Charleton, CSG president, speaks about proposed amendments to the statement of student rights and responsibilities  at the Central Student Government meeting in the Michigan Union on Tuesday.

LSA senior Cooper Charleton, CSG president, speaks about proposed amendments to the statement of student rights and responsibilities at the Central Student Government meeting in the Michigan Union on Tuesday. Buy this photo
Elizabeth Xiong/Daily

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 12:09am

At Tuesday’s Central Student Government meeting, a new resolution to promote the safety of Muslim and other minority groups on campus by making the University of Michigan a sanctuary campus for immigrants took center stage.

The resolution, following an incident of anti-Islam chalking on the Diag last week, was discussed at length and ultimately split into two separate resolutions that were passed.

The resolutions affirms students’ rights of religious expression, such as the right to wear a hijab in any setting. It also calls for CSG to recognize the University’s campus as a safe space on campus for immigrant students.

LSA representative Samer Alkhalili, an LSA junior who presented the resolution on the behalf of its authors, emphasized the University’s responsibility to protect its Muslim students, especially in the aftermath of the chalk messages on the Diag.

“In this resolution, we want to reach out to students,” he said. “A lot of the students I’ve talked to have been traumatized by this event. They don’t even want to leave their homes to go to class. At an institution like the University of Michigan, which prides itself in the core tenets of diversity, it’s unacceptable that we’re choosing to abstain from taking part in this conversation.”

Fourteen students spoke on behalf of the resolution during the Community Concerns portion of the meeting before the resolution was brought to the floor.

When representatives discussed the issue, CSG President-elect David Schafer, an LSA junior, said the body should advocate for and further the kind of action described in the resolution in their capacity as representatives of students.

“I think CSG affirming its support in standing and solidarity with students who were targeted over the last week, but more especially throughout their entire time at the University — it’s of the utmost importance,” he said. “Students obviously can’t turn to the administration because we saw the University administration’s response, or lack thereof, last week.”

After the chalking, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald released a statement saying the University was committed to creating an inclusive climate. According to Fitzgerald, bias response teams from the University looked into the incident when it was first reported.

“We all understand that where speech is free it will sometimes wound,” Fitzgerald said in the statement. “But our message is this: We are fully committed to fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone. Tonight we are reminded there is much work yet to be done.”

Another new resolution brought to the body for the first time Tuesday night was also passed. The resolution called for supporting the inclusion of gender pronouns students prefer with their legal name in all University-related settings.

The resolution also asked the body to send an e-mail out to students informing them of the ability to specify their preferred pronouns.

LSA sophomore Nick Meier, co-author of the resolution, said according to the Office of the Registrar, this would not be difficult to incorporate on Wolverine Access.

“If a professor or a GSI gets the name and picture of every student, they should as well get their preferred pronouns,” he said.