The University of Michigan Central Student Government convened via Zoom Tuesday night to discuss the University administration’s response to COVID-19 and passed a resolution to create a task force that responds to and works to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on students’ lives. 

Assembly members said University administration failed to effectively manage the impact of COVID-19 with the fall reopening plan. LSA junior Sam Burnstein said the University’s handling of the pandemic was lacking when compared to efforts from other top universities across the country. Burnstein also noted labor disputes involving graduate students, resident advisers and dining hall workers and criticized University President Mark Schlissel, who faced a vote of no confidence by faculty members in September.

“I think it should be evident to anyone on campus that President Schlissel and the administration — when compared to other top public schools in the country — have seriously dropped the ball,” Burnstein said. “Their handling of this pandemic led to an unprecedented vote of no confidence by the Faculty Senate, a two-week-long strike from the graduate students’ organization and subsequent strikes from residence staff and dining employees.”

The CSG COVID-19 task force will be responsible for updating Assembly meetings on the University administration’s handling of COVID-19 and recommending policy proposals that CSG can take to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on students. LSA junior Zackariah Farah said the task force enables CSG to advocate for students’ needs during the pandemic.

“I think this is something that we’ve all been looking for,” Farah said. “For a while, I think a lot of us were disappointed that CSG wasn’t more engaged in the COVID response and advocating for the students. I’m very happy that this is now being brought to the table.”

The Assembly voted to appoint Burnstein as chair and LSA junior Annie Mintun as vice chair of the task force. The Assembly appointed Farah, Public Policy senior Damian Chessare, Rackham student Alexandra Engler, Information graduate student David Shinabarger, LSA junior Ruby Yearling and LSA freshman Trey Salisbury as representatives on the task force.

Shinabarger said he aims to increase dialogue with the University administration and push for increased testing on campus through this task force. 

“Last week, we tested around 4,000 students. At the same time, the University of Illinois tested 40,000 students,” Shinabarger said. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we shouldn't be doing that.”

The Assembly passed a resolution to allocate $15,000 to fund the operation of the CSG AirBus. According to Rackham student Hayden Jackson, who sponsored the resolution, in order to comply with COVID-19 health guidelines, the buses will only seat one person per row and transport a total of 13 students per trip. The trips will only be outbound to the Detroit Metro Airport in November before Thanksgiving Break.

“We believe that it is going to be possible to have a public health-informed Airbus this semester,” Jackson said. “We’re not currently, as it stands, authorizing trips back like we would normally do. We just find it harder to alleviate those public health concerns.”

Another $1,102 was allocated toward hosting a fall fest, which would include free treats, cider and pumpkins on the Diag, as well as care packages for students in campus quarantine housing.

The Assembly passed a resolution to conduct meetings over the course of spring and summer semesters. The body will meet virtually every other Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. during these semesters.

The Assembly also confirmed Rackham student Vincent Alessi as first-year graduate student ex-officio and temporarily appointed Rackham student Thibaut Pardo-García as elections director. 

Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at itznavya@umich.edu. 

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