The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government met Tuesday evening to discuss making their weekly meetings fully in-person again to boost engagement. CSG also talked about their upcoming February events and approved nominated candidates for multiple positions.
A new resolution proposed at Tuesday’s meeting would require assembly members to attend CSG meetings in person. The resolution claims that members are more engaged when they are physically present. CSG first adopted virtual meetings in March 2020 when the global COVID-19 outbreak forced classes and campus activities to move online. As of September 2021, meetings have been hybrid.
Zaynab Elkolaly, Engineering senior and assembly member, said the resolution may unfairly impact disabled members, who might find it more difficult or uncomfortable to attend in person. Elkolaly agreed that increasing engagement is important for CSG, but she said that could be accomplished without abolishing virtual meetings.
“People who would want to attend remotely are forced to disclose potentially sensitive and personal medical information related to their disability,” Elkolaly said. “We want to engage people. That’s how we function. Me and many others feel that this is not the right way to go about it.”
Olivia O’Connell, LSA sophomore and assembly member, said she agreed with Elkolaly’s belief that the resolution is unintentionally discriminatory against disabled assembly members. She said that this is not the first time the issue has come up. She reminded the assembly that they had previously discussed why limiting virtual attendance is non-inclusive.
“Last semester there was talk of changing the attendance policy … and it was 100% agreed upon that limiting virtual attendance is inaccessible and non-inclusive,” O’Connell said. “I understand that we want to increase engagement, but the language of the resolution seems straightforwardly ableist, despite the fact that those weren’t the sponsor’s intentions.”
The assembly failed to reach a conclusion on the resolution and motioned to postpone it indefinitely.
CSG also discussed their plans for February, which is Black History Month. Maria Fields, Engineering junior and assembly member, expressed interest in taking the lead on a month-long social media campaign in honor of Black History Month, based on a resolution passed last year.
“The social media campaign is going to be happening Feb. 1, so keep an eye out for that,” Fields said.
CSG then voted on nominations for a couple of positions. Law School student Reggie Stewart was nominated for the position of student member of the U-M Police Department Oversight Committee. In addition, LSA sophomore Taylor Quick was nominated for the position of elections director, LSA senior Claudia McLean was nominated for the position of deputy elections commissioner for operations and LSA freshman Jimmy Mahfet was nominated for the position of independent special prosecutor.
All nominations were approved unanimously by the assembly.
Daily Staff Reporter Jamie Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.