At this week’s University of Michigan Central Student Government meeting, Assembly members discussed supporting Iraqi refugees and CSG finances. Tuesday night’s meeting was the last scheduled for the fall 2019 semester.

The meeting began with community member Kate Stenvig, a representative from fhe Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, urging the Assembly to bring attention to the upcoming trial of Ali Al-Sadoon and Wisam Hamana. Stenvig was joined by two of Al-Sadoon’s children, who also addressed the Assembly. 

Stenvig told the story of Al-Sadoon and Hamana, two Iraqi refugees who were arrested in July after cutting off their restraints and refusing to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s orders to arrive at the airport for deportation to Iraq. Al-Sadoon and Hamana were charged with hampering a deportation but plead not guilty.

Stenvig explained how those who are deported to Iraq are not provided with any identification or assistance finding housing or other resources. Stenvig said this can create a dangerous situation for those deported. 

“There is a lot of suspicion,” Stenvig said. “There’s 1,500 checkpoints in Baghdad alone, and if you’re going to a checkpoint and you’re an American… it’s kind of common knowledge you’re going to be under a lot of suspicion by  the police, by different militias, and so to not have identification is really really dangerous.”

Al-Sadoon’s pre-trial hearing will take place next Thursday, Dec. 19. Jury trials will occur Jan. 7 and Feb. 4 at Levin Federal Courthouse in Detroit. Stenvig and Al-Sadoon’s children asked Assembly members to help them pack the courtroom with supporters.

“We want to get as many people as we possibly can into that courtroom to make clear that there’s so much support for just the common sense of ‘Why would you get on a plane to a place where you know you’re going to be killed?’” Stenvig said. “What they’re fighting for is for themselves, but they’ve really put themselves as leaders to fight for everyone else in their situation and to say … an immigration judge does not have the right to basically give someone the death penalty.”

After considering the Al-Sadoon and Hamana case, Assembly members passed a resolution declaring support for activists seeking to end deportations to Iraq and resolving to educate and help mobilize the public in regard to the upcoming hearings.

Ben Gerstein, CSG president and Public Policy junior, a sponsor of the resolution, discussed the importance of the trial as a human rights issue. 

“The purpose of this is, in an important time for our country and humanity in general, to reaffirm our University’s and our commitment to the better public good and to activism on campus and activism within our community that’s based on the simple dignity and preservation of human rights,” Gerstein said. 

Taylor Lansey, CSG treasurer and LSA junior, gave a report on CSG’s financial status for 2019. The presentation included an overview of how the $9.19 of each student’s semester tuition allocated to CSG is spent and a review of the winter, summer and fall 2019 budgets. The winter semester budget totaled $447,992, while the summer budget totaled $129,164 and the fall budget totaled $428,797.

Of these funds in fall 2019, a minimum of 5 percent is allocated to a general reserve for emergency funds, a maximum of 20 percent is budgeted for the payroll for CSG staff, 4-18 percent to the executive discretionary fund, 2-9 percent to the legislative discretionary fund, 48 percent to the Student Organization Funding Committee and $250 to the Central Student Judiciary.

Austin DelPriore, elections director and Law School student, then gave a report on Fall 2019 CSG elections. He made recommendations to improve future elections, including providing a simplified election guide for candidates, offering an additional candidates’ meeting to accommodate schedule conflicts and increasing advertising for elections.

During the executive communications report, Gerstein discussed upcoming budgetary expenditures. The planned expenditures include $10,000 to the Leadership Engagement Scholarship to ensure scholarship disbursements to recipients begin next semester, and $5,000 to the Dean of Students’ Emergency Fund, which is intended to assist students in paying immediate unforeseen expenses. Other executive expenditures include working on a fund for emergency meals to address food insecurity on campus, as well as a fund for students with medical needs struggling to pay prescriptions and copays. 

Gerstein also announced continued initiatives in student-led faculty mental health training, including an upcoming training session at the Ford School of Public Policy in February. The sessions are meant to be an avenue for students to inform professors on best practices to structure classes in a way most conducive to student mental health. 

Jack Wroldsen, student general counsel and LSA junior, announced his resignation. Wroldsen said he is resigning because he will be studying in Washington, D.C. next semester and feels he will not be able to fulfill his current role. 

“I think it’s really important in this role that individuals work with the Assembly, work with committees, work with individuals, work with members of the executive team to enact projects and make sure things run the way they should,” Wroldsen said. “If I’m not present in Ann Arbor to do that kind of stuff, I think it would be best to give that opportunity to someone else.”

The Assembly then conducted two tie-breaker elections. The first, for the election of a Rackham representative, was postponed due to the absence of all three candidates. The second was for the School of Social Work representative, in which only one of two candidates was present. After giving a speech and a vote by secret ballot, Social Work student Cecelela Tomi was confirmed. 

The Assembly next discussed a resolution to create a CSG Student Empowerment Fund, which would allow the president and vice president to pick a campus organization to support through fundraising each semester. It was referred back to the Resolutions Committee. 

Additionally, the Assembly passed a resolution to create a CSG-funded law school admissions test preparation pilot program. The resolution had been amended from its earlier form to make the program specific to the LSAT and address concerns about the legality of such a preparation program.

Assembly members also approved a motion to allocate $1,640 from the discretionary budget to fund an electronic voting system for Assembly. They approved an additional $8,000 from the Assembly Discretionary Fund to subsidize AirBus, lowering prices from $9 to $4. The Assembly also amended the budget to allocate $3,625 to hand out healthy snacks and coffee in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and Duderstadt Library late at night during finals week. 

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