With Ann Arbor rent prices skyrocketing and student voter turnout flatlining, the University of Michigan Central Student Government met Tuesday night in the Michigan Union to pass resolutions to renew a taskforce researching a student tenants union and to discuss CSG and national election reform.
Because Ann Arbor rent has increased at a yearly rate of nearly 16 percent, the Assembly passed a resolution reauthorizing the Student Tenants Union taskforce to research the structure and demand for a student tenant’s union.
LSA sophomore Sam Burnstein said the end goal for the taskforce is to create a tenant’s union with full-time staff to advocate on behalf of students, assist students with searching for housing and answer questions on topics from renting to roommates.
“This idea for a Student Tenants Union was really born out of two issues most students on campus face in some way,” Burstein said. “The first being affordability, and the second, really, is a deficit of information regarding renting.”
Burnstein stressed the importance of advocacy, especially since four of the five seats up for election in the Ann Arbor City Council went to “anti-housing candidates” last year, each of which were won with less than 1 percent of the vote.
“At the core of this issue are terrible laws and regulations in the city of Ann Arbor, particularly zoning codes, height limits on buildings, where buildings can be built (and) how the city council approves which buildings can be built,” Burstein said.
The Assembly passed a resolution 22-5 to include an author’s summary and FAQ section within resolutions to increase accessibility to students, the press and Assembly members themselves. Burstein said these additions would help readers better understand CSG’s work.
“This definitely would help students read, understand and interpret our resolutions,” Burstein said.
Engineering sophomore Carla Voigt raised concerns the summaries would discourage Assembly members from reading resolutions in their entireties. LSA sophomore Sam Braden approved of an FAQ section but worried about members maliciously excluding certain details from a summary.
“An author’s summary is actually dangerous, while an FAQ is not,” Braden said. “It is a lot more difficult to abuse an FAQ than an author’s summary.”
Engineering senior Mario Galindez disagreed, noting the resolution gives the committee the ability to edit the summary at every stage.
“No mechanism can’t be abused,” Galindez said. “I think in everything there’s room for abuse, and I think there’s a good check here, which is the committee structure.”
The Assembly debated a resolution allowing faculty to grant students excused absences on national election days if they have significant barriers to voting due to transportation limitations or class schedule. It was ultimately sent back to its creators to be revised.
Additionally, the Assembly passed resolutions supporting carbon-neutral facilities on campus and ensuring party names are not listed alongside candidate names on the CSG ballot.