Despite the mixed reactions from CSG’s last meeting, a resolution aiming to host an Israeli-Palestinian lunch to foster dialogue passed with 18 in favor, nine opposed and five abstentions. However, the student assembly debated heatedly over the details of the resolution and CSG’s handling of the debate, with LSA Representative Eli Schrayer voting “no with rights” against his own resolution to continue the conversation.
The resolution was in response to CSG’s previous meeting that involved Palestinian and Israeli conversation.
Since 2002, pro-Palestinian group Students Allied for Freedom and Equality has presented resolutions to the body asking it to support the group’s request of asking the University’s Board of Regents to divest from certain companies operating in Israel. The group believes the business practices in Israel and the products produced contribute to the oppression of Palestinians. The last CSG meeting had the closest vote yet, with 34 against and 13 in favor.
Schrayer said the lunches would not be open to the public nor to students in general, but to only a select group.
“We can very easily get this funding from other places, but we think it’s a really good thing for CSG to pass,” Schrayer said.
CSG President David Schafer, an LSA senior, was opposed to the idea, as he believes that it’s not within CSG’s jurisdiction to fund resolutions of that nature.
“Quite simply, it’s not CSG’s place to judicate on international conflicts and international issues,” Schafer said. “Our scope is narrow, our priority, first and foremost, is to address pressing campus issues, and how students on this campus feel. I’ll be very honest, when people come up to me and say, ‘David, why is CSG considering (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), it has no place in CSG’ — I believe that BDS is far more relevant to CSG than this resolution, because BDS more directly impacts students on this campus. This is judicating on a conflict that ostensibly has no effects on the students on this campus directly.”
Schrayer disagreed, believing CSG is the right avenue to address campus climate. He said if Jewish student organization Hillel sponsored the event, it would look too biased.
“I think this is 100 percent a student government issue because it’s campus climate, it’s how students on campus are dealing with one another and their everyday lives on campus; people feel this every single day,” Schrayer argued. “If not here, then where is the place? This is why I ran for student government, to bring issues that affect my community here. We’re simply buying food for people to come together and I don’t see a downside to that.”
Rackham student Rep. Andy Snow expressed that the amount requested wasn’t outside of the CSG budget’s means, and stated that the resolution was showing initiative in trying to improve campus climate.
“This is 200 bucks, and we have approximately $20,000 — that’s 0.01 percent of the money we have for the next month,” Snow said. “I don’t think it’s going to work at all, but I see no reason why it’s not worth trying when they’re the only people who have tried to do something through here. I find the pushback on this absolutely ridiculous.”
Schafer responded to Snow, emphasizing that BDS has had little consistent change when presented to the body and that his opposition to the resolution was not because of its financial aspects.
“We’ve given BDS the same chance that we’ve given this resolution, and every year BDS has failed, OK?” Schafer said. “It’s not about the money — it never was about the money … my feelings would be the exact same if they were asking for $15,000, $200 or one penny. It’s not about the money, of course we have the money to fund $200 … it’s the principle. It’s the existential question of ‘What is the purpose of this body?’ I have deep reservations with this resolution as it stands now.”
CSG Vice President Micah Griggs, an LSA senior, agreed with Schafer, saying the lunches were not designed to be open to the public.
“It doesn’t maximize the student body reach, it’s not accessible to other students, it’s exclusive,” Griggs said. “I think the reason that there aren’t any sponsors is because of the bigger problems of this issue … If you want real allies in this conversation and it’s not one-sided or just two-sided then invite members like (Muslim Students’ Association) or (Intergroup Relations). I just don’t see how this will be successful and I just can’t support this, and again, it’s not about the money.”
After voting occurred and the resolution passed, Schrayer once again spoke about his resolution.
“I voted no with rights because I wanted the chance to say one more thing,” Schrayer said. “I think these really do have a chance to succeed, because the reality is the communities don’t know enough about each other and this is a chance we’ll be able to talk.”
A resolution urging the University to align its schedule with that of the Ann Arbor Public School System was also passed, though representatives noted that this change would not take place for another few years even if it did pass.