The University of Michigan Central Student Government met Tuesday night and discussed the introduction of many resolutions including reducing meal prices for Pell Grant students. Public Policy senior Alexandrea Somers, the author of the resolution, said she hopes to pass this resolution by early November after modifications are made by the assembly.
The resolution proposed would be a pilot program to combat food insecurity. Somers discussed how the program would allow Pell Grant recipients to apply for a reduced meal plan through University dining halls.
Fifty Pell Grant students per semester would receive a subsidized meal plan and pay only $7 per meal instead of the current rate of $16 a meal in the dining halls. Pell Grant recipients come from families who earn an income of less than $50,000 a year. Somers emphasized the importance of the initiative as it was one of the issues she promised to address in her election campaign.
“When I ran for CSG, one thing that ran out to me was that people said that they wanted to have (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits for the dining halls,” Somers said. “I thought well, SNAP benefits are complicated, so what’s an easier way to start making those steps towards getting near that goal. Dining hall accessibility is valuable to off-campus and Pell Grant students, so that is the first step to make things happen.”
Some questioned whether Somers would be willing to extend the benefits to people who don’t qualify for the Pell Grant such as undocumented, international and graduate students. Somers said she would be open to the idea, but recognizes her time is running short as a senior.
“Things need to move quickly for me,” Somers said. “I’m a senior, and it’s almost the end of the first semester. This is a big need. As a low-income student, I think it’s important that students aren’t starving. This university has enough resources so that they are not starving.”
Engineering sophomore Tony Xavier was unanimously confirmed to the International Student Assembly seat. Before his confirmation, he discussed specific issues relating to international students that he hopes to address.
“For international students, there is one thing that University of Michigan completely neglects,” Xavier said. “There is no financial aid giving to international students.”
He went on to say many of the reasons the University does not offer aid is due to a stereotype of international students being wealthy. Xavier said the stereotype does not apply to him or other people he knew in India.
“There were three of my classmates back in India who could not come to the University because they found out the tuition was too expensive,” Xavier said.
After the CSG town hall meeting next Monday, CSG will release their survey and guide for housing lease managing guide. This is an effort to compile lists to pinpoint landlord reliability and housing prices are accessible to University students.
Engineering senior Michael Nwansi proposed student organizations receiving funding from CSG to apply for compostable dining material. According to Nwansi, the Student Sustainability Initiative spends a lot of money on advertisements for students to apply for compostable material. He thinks the resolution will help the University’s goal of reducing landfill waste by 40 percent in 2025.
Public Policy senior Alli Berry asked for CSG sponsorship for an event that will bring one Israeli orthodox Jewish person and one Palestinian person to campus to discuss their experiences and opinions on the current state of affairs in Israel. She said she knows it is a difficult topic to discuss, but hopes for a challenging yet respectful event and not a “kumbaya moment.”
The event comes at a time when the conflict is on the minds of many University students and professors, specifically in relation to Prof. John Cheney-Lippold’s recent decision to rescind his recommendation for a student to a study abroad program in Israel and the University’s subsequent sanctions against him. Berry hopes the discussion helps foster questions about the situation, not further divide campus.
“I think that this event could potentially leave people with more questions than they had coming in, but it’s an initial conversation,” Berry said. “And if we don’t sit down to start these conversations we will continue to see what we see on campus which are these isolated events hosted by multiple organizations that don’t foster diversity.”
CSG President Daniel Greene, a Public Policy senior, also emphasized how important it is to promote their Buses to Ballots initiative, which will aid students getting to the polls on Nov. 6.