The University of Michigan Central Student Government launched a new campaign, “It Starts With Me,” at an event on the Diag Tuesday. The initiative aims to bring awareness to racism and discrimination on campus.
As part of the event, students were also encouraged to submit feedback to the body about their initiatives and plans this semester.
For the event, representatives from the general assembly, as well as CSG commissions, were posted near Mason Hall with 600 donuts, CSG handouts and a suggestions board for students to write on.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the suggestions on the board primarily centered around transportation to North Campus, as well as expressions of solidarity for minority students on campus.
LSA junior Zena Shunnar, deputy programming officer for CSG, said the event was organized in part because leaders in the organization believe the body needs to be more accessible to students. Increasing transparency of the assembly’s initiatives was part of the platform of newMICH, the political party led by CSG President David Schafer and CSG Vice President Micah Griggs, LSA seniors.
“I think it’s important to show students what we’re doing, to actually have interaction,” Shunnar said at the event. “The main reason we chose Diag Day (was) just to show face and to not be behind a door so much.”
“One trend that I’ve noticed is about more frequent buses on weekend, like the timing of buses,” Shunnar said. “And then just, like, a lot of people who have been feeling discrimination on campus, supporting different causes and minorities on campus.”
In the past few months, several incidents targeting minority students have sparked controversy on campus. In September, posters were hung in Mason and Haven Halls bearing slogans like “denying your heritage … be white.” In response to the slogans, more than 200 students marched through campus, chanting “No justice, no peace” to express solidarity.
By the end of the day, the suggestion board was covered with more than 300 different suggestions, ranging from “No more meatless Monday” to “Fight racism,” and CSG representatives said they viewed the day as a success.
CSG Communications Director Joe Shea, a Public Policy senior, echoed Shunnar, saying it was important for students to know what their elected officials are working on.
“We’re very passionate about making sure we are a resource for students, so the best way to do that is solicit feedback by any way possible,” he said.
The organization’s goal, Shunnar said, was to have students fill the board of suggestions with their opinions on recent CSG initiatives and future events they would like to see hosted by the assembly.
“If that board of suggestions gets filled and we’re able to see something consistent on that board, that will help us progress and do something students really want,” Shunnar said.
LSA freshman Brittany Jullie, who signed the banner, said she was glad to see the initiative.
“I think it’s a really good idea that people can raise suggestions with what they want to see happen,” she said.
Shunnar noted that the board also made it clear students weren’t completely familiar with assembly initiatives, because many students expressed concerns about problems the body is already working to fix.
“It’s nice that we’re able to be a little more transparent with what things we’re doing, because it’s different to send out an email than to talk to students,” Shunnar said. “We’re getting a lot of kids.”
She said she hopes to host another event similar to Diag Day, perhaps in another location, in the future.
“I think we may have one on North Campus, so just to change the scenery, obviously just getting a lot of student impact is important,” she said.