CSG VP announces resignation, effective at end of semester

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - 10:17pm

Members of Central Student Government discuss graduate school test preparation among other topics at the weekly CSG meeting Tuesday evening.

Members of Central Student Government discuss graduate school test preparation among other topics at the weekly CSG meeting Tuesday evening. Buy this photo
Claire Meingast/Daily

At Central Student Government’s weekly assembly, CSG vice president Isabelle Blanchard, an LSA senior, announced she will resign from her position on CSG on the last day of the semester. 

“This decision has not been an easy one, and I have struggled with feelings of guilt during this time, as I do not want to let anyone down,” Blanchard said. “However, it has become increasingly clear that the time commitment and demands of the role are placing an undue amount of pressure on myself, negatively impacting my mental health. With the current state of my well-being, it would be unfair to the student body to continue in this role.”

Blanchard added she felt it was important to be transparent about her decision to prioritize her mental health. 

“I wanted to be genuine with you all about the impact of this work on my well-being, because I believe that, as student leaders, you expect honesty from me, and that we should model caring for our physical and mental health and well-being,” Blanchard said. 

Ben Gerstein, CSG President and Public Policy junior, released a statement regarding Blanchard’s resignation.

“The task of leading a 48,000+ student body is one of great intensity that demands significant personal sacrifice,” the statement said. “I, and all of CSG, are incredibly proud of the work Isabelle has done. Her contributions to the University of Michigan have not gone unnoticed. From engaging with students on North Campus in advocacy for resource improvements, to hydrating the student body each game-day, Isabelle has been a dedicated and selfless leader in her role.”

CSG is in the process of selecting a new vice president, who will be approved by the Executive Nominations Committee before being subjected to a vote of confirmation by the Assembly. Gerstein’s statement guaranteed CSG will select a candidate qualified to take on the role of vice president. 

“As your President, I want to assure the student body that our commitment always resides in creating an environment where students can be successful and pursue continued betterment of our campus,” Gerstein’s statement continues. “I have no doubt that the candidate selected will do just that.”

The Assembly also approved Law student Henry Zurn as chief justice of the Central Student Judiciary, the judicial branch of CSG, and Engineering freshman Braden Crimmins as associate chief justice. Zurn spoke regarding the importance of working toward greater continuity in the elections of CSJ members. 

“The Central Student Judiciary has had some problems in the past with turnover and continuity, so it’s particularly important that in this last round of confirmations, we had a good diversity both within academic degree granting units and within age of students or time left here at the University,” Zurn said. “It’ll be my priority and the priority of the associate chief nominee to keep everything running smoothly, and to facilitate that, it’s particularly important that we have clear lines of authority and clear lines of continuity within the student judiciary.”

The Assembly discussed and approved a resolution regarding CSG’s financial procedures. The resolution provides clear fiscal semesters, ensures a budget determines what funds are allocated, and eliminates some budgetary limits considered unnecessary. The resolution passed by unanimous consent. 

The Assembly next discussed a resolution to run a pilot program in the winter semester for a CSG-funded test preparation program. The proposed program would employ students who have succeeded on graduate school entrance exams such as the LSAT, MCAT or GRE, to tutor undergraduates at a cost lower than typical test preparation courses. The end goal of the program is to be presented to the University and eventually become a service provided by the University.

The resolution is similar to testing preparation services previously provided by the University Career Center. According to LSA sophomore Sam Braden, the sponsor of the resolution, one reason the program ended came from a desire to maintain a positive relationship with outside preparation services after the University was accused of violating copyright laws in their tutoring services. 

Braden said the University Career Center recommended CSG approach existing sources, such as Kaplan or the Princeton Review, and subsidize access to their services for students. Braden said he did not want to support the high prices, ranging between roughly $1,500 and $2,500, such sources charge for test preparation courses. 

“We didn’t like the thought of subsidizing a cost that, in and of itself, should not be this high,” Braden said. “It’s obvious that they don’t need to be charging this much — Kaplan and Princeton make immense profits off of these.”

Some Assembly members questioned the proposed program’s ability to provide tutoring services as high quality as more reputable testing preparation providers. Others also expressed concerns about the possibilities of bringing lawsuits against CSG or future tutors from such providers who could argue tutors who had once studied their materials could use the knowledge they acquired from their companies to tutor others. Jack Wroldsen, student general counsel, said he had brought the case to a certified bar attorney, who felt a lawsuit was plausible.

“He does think because of the intellectual property and copyright law, Kaplan or Princeton Review or whoever would have a strong case for it,” Wroldsen said. “He also said, regardless if there is or there isn’t, and I have to agree with him, why would we want to put ourselves in any sort of position to have to deal with a lawsuit at all?” 

Braden maintained that because the program would not use textbooks registered with any testing agency, and because he believes any lawsuit would be unfounded, the resolution should proceed for the benefit of students who do not have the opportunity to pay for expensive testing services. 

As a result, the resolution was referred to the Resolutions and Rules Committees for further consideration.

The Assembly next approved another procedural resolution, which passed with unanimous consent, and a resolution to award financial aid to socio-economically disadvantaged CSG members for their time. The resolution passed with 12 in favor, six abstentions, and zero against.