CSG President vetoes Israel-Palestinian lunch resolution
LSA senior David Schafer, Central Student Government president, vetoed the Israeli-Palestinian lunch resolution, which sparked a heated debate within the student government, Monday afternoon.
The proposed lunches, which were meant to foster dialogue between the body and Israeli and Palestinian students on campus, passed last meeting with 18 votes in favor, nine opposed and five abstentions.
In his statement, Schafer wrote he did not believe CSG should impose itself and widen its scope within the global-issue conflict.
“The overarching purpose of our organization is to address pressing student issues and concerns that have a direct and unambiguous connection to campus, such as mental health, sexual assault prevention, sustainability, and the rights of undocumented students,” he wrote. “We are best served, and our resources are most efficiently utilized, when we are faithful to this mission.”
Another reason the bill was met with disagreement from the executive board was the concern that Student Allied for Freedom and Equality, the pro-Palestinian student organization on campus, was not also a sponsor of the resolution. Schafer said the assembly "flippantly" did not take the absence of SAFE into consideration.
“As the student government that seeks to represent every Michigan student, our most important job is fostering an inclusive culture, both within and outside of CSG,” he wrote. “By advancing this Resolution without weighing the concerns of students in SAFE or any other student who might take issue with this Resolution, we are neglecting this foundational goal. While I do very much appreciate the author's good faith attempts to gain support from a diverse cross-section of students, this conspicuous absence of support is enough reason for me to veto this Resolution.”
CSG Vice President Micah Griggs, LSA senior, also touched upon this in the last Assembly meeting, stating she did not feel comfortable the proposed lunches were not open to the public. The resolution asked for a selected group of people who had to take a survey in order to be admitted into the lunches.
“It doesn’t maximize the student body reach, it’s not accessible to other students, it’s exclusive,” Griggs said last Tuesday night. “I think the reason that there aren’t any sponsors is because of the bigger problems of this issue … If you want real allies in this conversation and it’s not one-sided or just two-sided then invite members like (Muslim Students’ Association) or (Intergroup Relations). I just don’t see how this will be successful and I just can’t support this, and again, it’s not about the money.”
Schafer was also concerned with the structure of the launched resolution, primarily who would be the mediator as it was never clarified and only given “surface-level” consideration.
“Additionally, as was discussed by some Assembly Representatives during 1st and 2nd reads, this event is closed not only to most CSG members, but also to the general public,” he wrote. “Funding from the CSG Assembly Legislative Discretionary Fund should, at the very least, go to events and programs of which its own members can take advantage.”
The resolution author’s Eli Schrayer, an LSA representative and junior, disagreed with Schafer at the last meeting, stating CSG had the responsibilities to address the concerns that appear on campus on an everyday basis.
“I think this is 100 percent a student government issue because it’s campus climate, it’s how students on campus are dealing with one another and their everyday lives on campus; people feel this every single day,” Schrayer argued. “If not here, then where is the place? This is why I ran for student government, to bring issues that affect my community here. We’re simply buying food for people to come together and I don’t see a downside to that.”
This resolution is in response to SAFE’s attempts at a divestment resolution. Since 2002, SAFE has presented resolutions to the body asking it to support the group’s request of asking the University’s Board of Regents to divest from certain companies operating in Israel. The group believes the business practices in Israel and the products produced contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.
The last CSG meeting had the closest vote on the divestment yet, with 34 against and 13 in favor. However, the resolution has failed since its introduction.
SAFE member Devin Jones, LSA senior, addressed the student government after the resolution failed.
“When you argue on the claim that we did not know what we were talking about, that you are somehow better than us … that is the epitome of privilege,” Jones told the crowd. “(I am) paying tuition, in which a portion of my tuition goes to companies that go to the oppression of my people … You have to live with this. You have to stare me in the face.”