Central Student Government met Tuesday evening via Zoom to pass resolutions calling for more transparency from the University of Michigan and for the University to divest from fossil fuels. Additionally, The Assembly approved a resolution asking for an overhaul of CSG’s Student Organization Committee and approved finance requests.
Counseling and Psychological Services also presented to the Assembly. CAPS advertised its numerous offerings, such as peer counseling and in-depth clinical screenings. The presentation focused on the attention counselors at CAPS give to their students, the diversity of counselors, the variety of programs and that there is no limit to the number of consultations a student can receive. However, CAPS is often criticized for long wait times and inadequate offerings.
The meeting began with the unanimous passing of two resolutions. One of the resolutions condemns the University’s "many methods to resist compliance" with the Freedom of Information Act and demands improvements to encourage more public participation in U-M affairs. This resolution comes after The Washington Post uncovered emails from University President Mark Schlissel and other Big Ten university presidents encouraging communications about fall sports and campus reopening plans on a third-party platform. From the emails, administrators did this to avoid having their conversations subjected to FOIA.
The state of Michigan's FOIA law was enacted in 1977 to ensure transparency between institutions and the general public. The University has its own FOIA office where anyone can submit requests for documents, records and other information from the University. However, journalists, such as Detroit Free Press Higher Education Reporter David Jesse, have criticized the University’s FOIA office for delayed responses and high fees.
The Assembly also discussed a resolution to amend the Student Organization Codes to better define leadership roles. CSG unanimously passed the resolution to set requirements for organizations wishing to see funding from the Student Organization Funding Committee on equity and inclusion. Since the first draft was introduced in Feb. 2020, the resolution for DEI funding initiatives has been shifted in a second and final draft to the guidance of Wolverine Consulting Group for accepting funding applications.
Another passed resolution reupped the call for fossil fuel divestment by the University.
Resolutions to divest from fossil fuels have been circulating the University for many years with many student governments and organizations voicing support, including CSG in 2020. Since 2015, demands have grown for the University to divest from fossil fuels. Currently, there is a freeze on all fossil fuel investments while the University studies their investment policies. However, there has been little information since the freeze took effect in February 2020, causing calls for more action from activists.
LSA junior Zackariah Farah sponsored the resolution for the divestment of fossil fuel. He said this resolution would allow the University to reach the same standards as other higher education institutions.
“The University has openly stated that they’re reassessing their investment strategy and that they’re very interested in potentially divesting the endowment completely from fossil fuels, which is a huge step forward,” Farah said. “We would be catching up to many other universities in the United States.”
The meeting also passed multiple finance requests, including one asking for $2,000 to create a digital application for peer mentoring between current Law School students and undergraduate pre-law students.
Rackham student Siddharth Chaudari, the graduate student representative who sponsored this resolution, said the additional funding for the application will allow the technology to expand to other professional careers and undergraduate students.
“Our view is that this assignment (of funds) will allow us to get a better sense of who the active users of such an app will be, what are the features that they wish to see in the final app, and perhaps most importantly, if this app can be translated beyond just the law school environment,” Chaudari said.
An additional approved financial request called for $10,000 to the Social Justice and DEI grant award program run by CSG while another requested $10,750 to fund Instacart gift cards for 350 students to promote healthy eating.
The budget amendment was used to put $500 into the operations account of CSG. Rackham student Hayden Jackson said he sponsored his resolution due to the need of funds to operate CSG. The need for funds stems from budget tightness due to balancing the budget, according to Jackson.
“We, in the budget (committee), have more so than in the past kept the margins on these accounts really, really tight,” Jackson said. “We’re in a really tight margin.”
Only one finance request was denied, which asked for $3,000 for gift cards for completing a survey on anti-racism in Fraternity & Sorority Life. While all members of CSG approved of the creation of the survey and its drive for inclusivity, the monetary dispensation came under heavy scrutiny and forced the motion to be withdrawn.
“There have been a number of concerns that have been raised throughout this debate about the specifics of the methodology as well as the amount of money in total,” Farah said. “I do believe in the core idea (of addressing racism in Fraternity & Sorority Life), I just share many of the (monetary) concerns that were expressed tonight.”
Daily Staff Reporter Daniel Muenz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Zackariah Farah's first name. This article has also been revised to state that Michigan's Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 1977, rather than 1967. Updates have also been added to clarify CSG's resolution that condemns the University of Michigan’s "many methods to resist compliance" with FOIA.
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