On Tuesday’s Central Student Government meeting, CSG President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, spoke on the weekend’s racist incidents in West Quad Residence Hall, in which three Black students found derogatory remarks on their dormitory door decorations. She confirmed CSG’s responsibility in representing those affected by such incidents, and expressed her disappointment in the weekend’s events.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what to say about it. It’s incredibly hurtful and frustrating for the students who experience that and to the campus community as a whole when we see this sort of thing happen and you don’t feel like you can do anything about it,” she said. “We are very passionate about finding a way to rework the bias response incidents program that the University has … this weekend is proof that if you don’t step up and work on these issues there will be no improvement in the way that we take on the response process.”
Sarkar later expanded on this in a statement.
“The anti-black targeting of students this past weekend in West Quad is indicative of a larger problem that is perpetuated by both active hatred and quiet bystanders,” she wrote. “It is impossible to stop every force of racism and hatred, but it is certainly within the reach of every single member of the Michigan community to vocally and actively stand up against these acts of hatred. If you are not doing so, you are complicit in these continued incidents. I encourage those of you who have stood by until now to join those who continue to face these attacks. Without community-wide and active solidarity, hatred will continue to manifest in these cowardly acts.”
The assembly then moved on to their guest speakers. Dean of Students Laura Jones explained what the Dean of Students Office offers and how they hope to facilitate leadership advancement with CSG. She said working with students from CSG is one of the matters that has defined her perception of the University of Michigan as such a distinguished institution.
“I want to acknowledge and thank you for caring enough about the institution to run for office and to be a part of student government,” she said. “I really value and appreciate the role that you play and what your purpose is.”
Jones also introduced Jim Hoppes, the newly hired program adviser for Central Student Government. Taking over a role that works closely with CSG, Hoppes, who attended the University as an undergraduate, looks to build upon previous experience working with student leaders.
“I’m very excited for this year and I hope to help you all accomplish your goals,” he said.
In updates from the executive branch, Sarkar discussed projects such as CSG’s new partnership with Lyft, featuring $10 passes that work from midnight until 6 a.m. and that CSG hopes to make available to students next week.
“One of the things we had campaigned on was security threats for walking home late at night among students, especially in the South U, East U area,” she said. “I worked with Lyft over the summer to get late night ride passes for everyone.”
Other projects currently addressed by the executive branch include food insecurity initiatives that look to build upon last year’s progress, in which CSG worked with the dean of students to facilitate a referral program by CAPS and SAPAC that allows students in need to receive six free meal swipes at University dining halls.
In addition, CSG approved the appointments for new leadership in several positions and commission chairs, including LSA sophomore Isabelle Blanchard as chief programming officer and LSA junior Niccolo Beltramo as chair of the Student Organization Funding Commission.