The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government met virtually Tuesday night to discuss establishing a permanent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee and creating an annual Black History Month social media campaign.
The meeting began with the confirmations of rising LSA junior Meera Herle as Chief of Staff, rising Public Policy senior Thomas O’Heney as Treasurer and rising Public Policy junior Ayden Makar as Student Organization Funding Committee chair. The assembly also confirmed rising Business senior Lindsey Azu and rising Public Policy junior Samantha Lang as Wolverine Consulting Group vice chairs. In this position, Azu and Lang will lead the Wolverine Consulting Group, a CSG service that offers consulting and start-up funds to student organizations.
The assembly debated rising LSA junior Kareem Rifai’s confirmation to the position of Communications Director. Previously, the Executive Nominations Committee had offered a disapproval recommendation for Rifai’s confirmation by a vote of 3-1, claiming Rifai had a “hazy” vision for the position and did not understand the best way to connect with the student body.
“When we were deliberating on his nomination, we felt that Mr. Rifai did not outline a clear effective outreach strategy that would connect with the study body,” the Executive Nominations Committee wrote in its report.
Assembly members asked Rifai about his previous communications experience and how he plans to remain unbiased when creating social media messaging for CSG.
“I’m not here to interject my own voice at all,” Rifai said. “I’m just here to craft messaging in the most effective way, not only to represent CSG and the executive in a good way but also to make sure that every community on campus is able to resonate with the messaging that we’re trying to get across.”
The assembly ultimately confirmed Rifai for the position, citing a robust history of communications and media experience.
CSG also passed a resolution to establish an annual Black History Month social media campaign.
This campaign will require each assembly and executive branch member to create a graphic about a Black influential figure to post on CSG’s social media throughout February. CSG attempted to implement a similar social media initiative earlier this year, but assembly members later said participation was inconsistent or lacking. The new resolution states that CSG’s frequent communication with students via social media means the organization has a responsibility to promote Black history on these platforms.
“In order to help foster the inclusive environment that the Central Student Government mentions so often, CSG members need to actively uplift and celebrate Black Americans through educating themselves and others,” the resolution reads. “One way CSG continues to educate and connect with the student body is through social media, so CSG should be using its social media platforms during Black History Month.”
CSG also discussed a resolution to establish a permanent DEI committee, which would review drafted resolutions to ensure they meet CSG’s DEI standards.
Rising Engineering senior Maria Fields, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said she felt this resolution is an important step for advancing DEI in CSG.
“I don’t see this as an issue or any blockade to any resolutions,” Fields said. “It’s really just to make sure that necessary stakeholders … are included, making sure the language is inclusive, things like that.”
Fields added that the primary goal of this committee would be to spark discussion about topics relating to DEI among people with different backgrounds and perspectives.
“Obviously in no situation are we able to account for every perspective on the planet,” Fields said. “It’s really more to have a discussion on these things … in front of other assembly members (who) have more difference in perspective.”
The resolution was referred back to the Rules Committee.
Rising LSA sophomore Emma Sklar announced her plan to draft a resolution calling on the University to provide transportation to Planned Parenthood locations for U-M students. Sklar cited the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked on Monday that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a constitutional right to have an abortion. Sklar said she hopes to work with other members of the assembly to write this resolution as soon as possible.
“There’s quite an urgency to what I need to get done,” Sklar said. “If anybody would be willing to help me, right now is the time to do it.”
Summer News Editor Samantha Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.