CSG veto results in controversy, president gives State of the Students address

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 8:38pm

CSG met in the Hussey Room of the Michigan League Tuesday.

CSG met in the Hussey Room of the Michigan League Tuesday. Buy this photo
Kelsey Pease/Daily

Tuesday night, the University of Michigan Central Student Government held a meeting during which Engineering junior Zeke Majeske, chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, expressed his intentions to pursue an ethics investigation against CSG President Daniel Greene, a Public Policy senior.

Majeske brought up two main issues with Greene’s past behavior to the Student Assembly. He began by discussing his belief that the president misled the Assembly in an attempt to sway the potential override of his veto of A.R. 8-033, a resolution discussed last week titled “A Resolution to Reschedule SOFC Chair Confirmations.” The resolution proposes to change the process of selecting the Student Organization Funding chair: the representative leading the SOFC, the CSG committee in charge of allocating funds to various student organizations.

The proposed process would have the outgoing SOFC chair nominate at least two individuals to take their place. Further, the chair of the Executive Nominations Committee would vet the nominees and present them to the Assembly, who would vote to confirm the position.

Prior to last week’s CSG meeting, in which the Assembly discussed the veto of the resolution, Greene released a statement describing his decision to veto. According to Greene, if certain changes were made to the resolution, then he would highly consider approving it.

There’s a few changes (I’d like to make),” Greene said. “One is who does the nomination of the successor to the SOFC chair. Another concern was about this philosophy or idea of business not carrying over to the next assembly … and there was also the big question that sometimes — not always — the outgoing SOFC chair becomes treasurer, and so if the SOFC chair is nominating their successor, do they nominate themselves if they’re not a graduating senior?”

In his report to the council, Majeske described his issue with Greene’s handling of the resolution.

“He claimed further that the resolution contained certain provisions that it did not, as well as contradicting his previous statements and claiming that if one seemingly insignificant change was made, he would be in favor of the resolution,” Majeske said.

In addition, Majeske claims, in Greene’s introduction of the vetoed resolution, the president led people to believe the interests of SOFC were not taken into consideration when writing the resolution.

According to Greene, he spoke to Anthony Garvey, the current chair of SOFC, and Nico Beltramo, the former chair, and both agreed with Greene’s concerns with the SOFC resolution. Both members also approved of the veto statement Greene released.

“The veto statement went through a vetting process by the communications director, the student general council, the individuals who helped me author the letter, and no one took issue with what is in the public veto statements,” Greene said. “I believe that the issues the representative is concerned about are political in nature in the sense that it’s different interpretations and analysis of what’s written there, not matters of facts of what’s physically there.”

After further discussion, Speaker of the Assembly and Rackham student Austin Glass stated that the first issue was resolved and would no longer be discussed by the Assembly.

The second issue Majeske focused on pertained to the nomination process for new members of the Assembly. Specifically, he believes Greene engaged in unethical behavior, which resulted in the confirmation of Saveri Nandigama as CSG chief of staff.

The president came to the Executive Nominations Committee with recommendations for three candidates for the CSG positions of treasurer, chair of a commission and COS. The committee gave positive recommendations on two of the nominees, but did not give a positive recommendation to the COS position.

A stall in the process then ensued when, upon reviewal of the recommendations, Greene noticed that not all of the five members of the ENC were present when giving their recommendations for the positions. As a result, he argued the recommendations were not valid according to procedure. Majeske claimed this is not a valid argument due to prior interpretations of how many people had to actually be present.

Greene chose to pursue a provisional confirmation for COS. In this process, when the ENC has not come to a decision yet, the president has the right to turn the candidate over to the Assembly to temporarily approve their position, until ENC makes their decision. The Assembly chose to approve Nandigama as COS.

According to Glass, in the bylaws of CSG, it says that all members of the ENC “shall” be present in order to make any recommendations. Last year, the Assembly had followed the interpretation of “shall” as meaning “may,” indicating that in this case, the ENC’s recommendations would be valid. However, according to Greene, after bringing up concerns over that interpretation, council agreed that “must” would serve as a better interpretation.

According to Greene, It is not within the bounds of the CSG president to decide the interpretation of a certain word in the bylaws. He emphasized he was just vocalizing the decision the council had previously agreed upon.

Thus, when the Assembly approved the provisional confirmation, they were aware of the wording of “must.” Therefore, Greene does not see the validity in this aspect of Majeske’s argument.

“At the very beginning, some individuals interpreted the word ‘shall’ as meaning ‘may,’” Greene said. “I, at the beginning, without seeking council, thought that if that’s how they felt it should be, then that’s their prerogative. But after speaking with council, and reading the constitution and other documents, I felt that if you actually interchange the word ‘shall’ to ‘may’, that there’s often times things that must happen that aren’t technically required because what the words ‘may’ versus ‘must’ means.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, the speaker held a vote of the Assembly on whether to begin an ethics investigation of the second question involving Greene’s involvement in the nomination for COS, in which the Assembly voted in favor for. The investigation will be coordinated by the Ethics Committee and will be completed within 30 days from Tuesday’s meeting. 

During the meeting, Greene also gave his bi-annual State of Students address, in which he presented an overview of CSG’s work over the past year, as well as improvements he would like to see as the year progresses.

Greene highlighted CSG’s efforts to create inclusivity on campus through an introduction of the Narrative, Equity and Transformation plan, in which CSG worked with student organizations who felt they needed to improve their groups’ current climate. CSG has also addressed sexual misconduct, through several initiatives such as creating a sexual misconduct task force, as well as establishing a survivor empowerment fund.

Greene also said he believes CSG has several areas in which it can improve. Some include certain students’ financial barriers to participating in CSG, as well as a need for increased Assembly participation.

“The CSG executive team puts on a lot of events, I didn’t even highlight 20 percent of the events that we put on,” Greene said. “There’s about three or four of you that have attended an event this year … try to make every effort to go to these events. It’s not only showing support for the administration and CSG as a whole, but we’re talking about serious issues here on campus that can form resolutions you want to write, and allow you to interact with your constituents.”

Toward the end of the meeting, the Assembly passed several resolutions. One included A.R. 8-049, a resolution urging the University administration to reject any Michigan Union bid from Wendy’s until it signs on to the Fair Food Program. They also passed A.R. 8-047, a resolution to help fund the Undergraduate Research Symposium, as well as A.R. 8-039, a resolution to allocate $1,000 from the legislative discretionary account to a project account for University administrators to use in support of students in crisis.

The Assembly also approved A.R. 8-043, a resolution in favor of commitment to Presidents United to Solve Hunger. They further passed A.R. 8-044, which proposes to the implementation of rules for voting by delegation, as well as AR 8-050, which proposes the installation of gooseneck water bottle fillers in the Law Library.

“Obviously we are awaiting signatures from the president, but they all passed with wide majorities or by unanimous consent, so certainly they’re not controversial in any significant sense,” Glass said.

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify the series of events regarding the ethics investigation.