Crowd gathers at CSG meeting on behalf of divestment

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 11:44pm

It was a tense night in the University of Michigan Central Student Government chambers as attendees discussed the question of divestment and Students Allied for Freedom and Equality petitioned CSG to consider a future resolution supporting the divestment from companies operating in Israel on behalf of the state.

Last year, during the David Schafer administration — the previous CSG president — the resolution failed to pass — however, with its closest margin ever, at 34 to 13.

A group of about 50 students from the Latinx Alliance for Community Action, Support and Advocacy arrived at the chambers during community concerns to present their case in support of the Palestinian students on campus. The group spoke about how they believed in and shared support of divestment.

“It is my moral obligation to stand here in solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters,” Public Policy senior Gloriela Iguina-Colon said. “As Latinx people we know what it feels like to be run out of our homes, to know that there are legacies of colonialism persisting today, to feel in our souls the pain of ours and others’ oppression, to know that our liberation is bound together.”

Representatives from La CASA related to the struggles of Palestinian students and spoke about how they believed the companies in question commit human rights violations. Tension arose as the group expressed their sentiments, but were quickly silenced by CSG’s uniform processes and regulations.

Some CSG members emphasized procedural rules, to which the group responded by saying they were trying to make their voices heard to the people they elected as representatives.

This later sparked a conversation among assembly members to pause rules and open caucus during agenda topics like community concerns in order to make CSG more accessible to the general student body.

SAFE members then called on CSG to support them in having their bid to the University's Board of Regents. They called for CSG’s assistance in creating an ad hoc, unbiased committee of professionals to look further into the issue and hear concerns on both sides.

“What we’re proposing with this resolution is for the University to create a board to make these decisions about divestment,” LSA senior Reema Kaakarli said. “What we’re asking for, because we know this is such a controversial and difficult topic, is for the University to create an ad hoc committee to work directly with the divestment office, and put together a group of people who have a lot of knowledge about the University and how divesting would work.”

The group called for CSG to acknowledge their voices and the needs of the students at the University, and asked for help in getting administration to do the same. 

Another resolution presented, but not yet passed, was one asking CSG to support the Student Community of Progressive Empowerment (SCOPE) four-point list of requests for undocumented students, including asks such as centralized resources, funding and support and outreach programs.

They suggested that the University does not cap the aid for undocumented students (as it is usually capped around $23,000) as generally, since families have very low socioeconomic status and are also not eligible for federal aid. Furthermore, they want to ensure that undocumented high school students are well supported and have access to resources that will help them learn more about the University's policies in regards to aid available to them. CSG members discussed whether or not this could be done without endangering or compromising the students’ positions, and debated the best ways to provide this support.

CSG also passed resolutions in support of funding a SAPAC conference, protecting resources that support survivors of sexual assault and a calculator loan program, both unanimously.