The University of Michigan Central Student Government convened Tuesday night to discuss the development of an adaptive sports program and the possible creation of a tenants’ union in Ann Arbor.
Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, an alum of the University’s Medical School, spoke to CSG members about the importance of adaptive sports to students both with and without disabilities. Pointing to the emphasis of athletics at the University, Okanlami said he believes the addition of an adaptive sports team would give the University a successful program unrivaled by any other in the country.
“We care about athletics for everyone,” Okanlami said. “And you have an ability and an opportunity to pioneer an adaptive sports program right here on campus that is going to be unrivaled by anybody in the country.”
Okanlami ran track as an undergraduate at Stanford University before he dove into a pool and broke his neck — paralyzing him from the chest down. He said being exposed to adaptive sports gave him the opportunity to continue to participate in sports that were a major part of his previous life.
Oklanlami concluded his proposal by saying an adaptive sports program would help the University attract a diverse student body that values inclusivity and would demonstrate that adaptive sports are for everyone.
“There are so many other sports that we can allow everyone to have access,” Okanlami said. “Eventually it would not be a team full of people with disabilities, it could be having a specific event in the Big Ten championships that is a Paralympic event that allows the points to be for everyone.”
Rackham student Austin Glass, CSG speaker of the assembly, said he believes an adaptive sports program would be a beneficial addition to the University.
“I am hoping to work on this addition,” Glass said. “It might not be soon, but it’s certainly going to set a pipeline.”
Following Okanlami’s presentation, attorney Douglas Lewis, director of Student Legal Services, and Gayle Rosen, an attorney with Student Legal Services, answered questions regarding the possible creation of a new tenants’ union in Ann Arbor.
The previous Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union existed for 35 years before shutting down in 2004 due to funding loss. Rents have risen steadily in Ann Arbor in last decade — the median rate for rent in Ann Arbor increased 14 percent from 2010 to 2015 reaching $1,075 per month.
“The tenants’ union helped a lot of things happen in government in this town that wouldn’t have happened without it,” Lewis said. “I think their last shot was trying to get rent control in Ann Arbor.”
Both Lewis and Rosen said they would want to support the creation of a new tenants’ union.
“I think if it’s something most people want to consider,” Rosen said. “It probably makes sense to get a group of people together of someone who used to be on the tenants’ union and talk about what the structure should be.”
CSG has previously received backlash regarding affordability guidelines and the search for housing, and believes that the creation of a tenants’ union could be a step in the right direction.
At a panel on affordability last week, State Rep. Yousef Rabhi said the onus would largely rested on students to organize.
“The Tenants Union was valuable partially because of its independence,” Rabhi said. “I don’t think politicians or University officials can recreate something like the Tenants Union. People in this room need to take it upon themselves to help start something up like that again.”