Op-Ed: Time to aMplify the truth

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 5:30pm

We have serious issues on this campus, issues that cannot be resolved with just hopeful promises. It is not enough to spew meaningless platitudes and vows that cannot be kept. If Central Student Government is to gain the trust of this university, then its candidates must be honest about the problems the University of Michigan faces and how these problems can be addressed. Today, aMplify will endeavor to do just that. Today, aMplify will tell the truth.

The truth is CSG must do more to engage its constituents. It cannot act as a bloated politburo that ignores the needs of its students. Our government must be reorganized to allow the voices of individual schools and students of all levels to be heard. Councils must give voice to those groups on campus that direct the course of the University. The CSG funding process must be reformed to encourage initiatives that are capable of effecting positive change. Government must operate in tandem with the clubs, fraternities and schools that form our cultural foundation. There can be no room for unilateral actions without dialogue. We must be accountable to each other.

The truth is your student government and university have failed to be transparent about its actions. Legislation was recently passed to reveal how representatives voted on the most important issues facing the student body, and yet those votes remain unpublished. As the election approaches, the voting behavior of candidates on issues like the attempt to compensate student government officials is shrouded in mystery. This vote proceeded despite the finite resources of CSG and the University, resources that could be better allocated toward the student body. On the University level, tuition increases are announced without sufficient advance notice and decisions are made without adequate explanation. This pattern of obfuscation must end. The student body must take part in the choices that shape its life.

The truth is meaningful action to protect our students and the learning environment from incidents of bias and assault must be taken. Evil has no place here, and CSG must push for strong administrative responses that respect both the law and the rights of those affected. That means implementing the proposed amendment to the student code of conduct, increasing the penalties for those who attack this sacred community. That means forming partnerships with faculty, staff and students to create consistent, meaningful, practical and effective responses to attacks on community members. That means community oversight of investigations of sexual misconduct, bigotry and impropriety at the University. That means a University accountable to its members.

The truth is people like Richard Spencer and Charles Murray will sometimes walk among us. At times, we must face those who cower behind the First Amendment as they spread their insidious rhetoric. Our response to groups who resort to instruments of fear to hide their own inadequacies and bigotry must be unyielding. We must react with morality, courage and peace to those cold and destructive souls who seek to sow seeds of division. Only then will they find unfruitful soil. To that end, CSG and the administration must provide clarity through open discussion, concrete processes and meaningful dialogues on how it intends to protect its students while promoting a variety of perspectives. Initiatives like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and programs like Wolverine Pathways, Intergroup Relations and the Go Blue Guarantee are a start, but they cannot be the end of our commitment to diversity. There must be an independent review board of the University’s actions on diversity and inclusion that does more than rubberstamp initiatives. The voice of the students must be equal to that of the administration.

The truth is the University will face issues like divestment and we must face them with reason and mercy. The harsh realities of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and discrimination in all its forms must be acknowledged. We must recognize, too, that our actions in these cases have an impact far beyond the campus. They affect our alumni, our students, our faculty and staff, our employers, our families and our future. There is an obligation to consider, with an open mind, the reasoning of every expert and hear the perspective of all who are willing to offer their story. The University’s endowment and spending, in general, must be considered against this moral backdrop. The impact our financial choices have on every child and every alum across the globe must be considered as we act. Our economic behavior must be governed by a partnership of students and university that consciously reviews our financial choices and is answerable to students, staff and faculty.

The truth is the problems facing this campus are not insignificant and neither are we. Every point in our history has had challenges and Wolverines to face them down. This is not a resting point for the faint of heart, this is the home of victors valiant. Places like the University of Michigan are where the world changes for the better; people like you are why it does. We are here to support those Wolverines who defined our yesterdays, embrace our todays and shape our tomorrows. We are here to aMplify your voice.

Sujay Shetty is an LSA junior and Matthew Williams is a first-year Law student.