By Any Means Necessary, a national coalition that aims to defend affirmative action, immigrant rights and equality, visited Central Student Government to show support for a resolution for undocumented students on campus during their Tuesday meeting. The resolution, which passed with 26 votes for it, one opposed and two abstentions, was authored by CSG President David Schafer, an LSA senior.
“I just wanted to highlight the importance of this resolution,” Schafer said. “I think it’s our job to stand in support of our undocumented students on this campus and reaffirm their place in the University of Michigan and to show that CSG is here for them.”
The resolution called for both broad support of undocumented students and the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which allows undocumented immigrants to “apply for temporary deferrals of deportations and (for) work permits.”
The resolution noted ongoing discussion about ending the program, as President-elect Donald Trump campaigned to do so when he takes office, and asked for CSG to join other universities in supporting the program’s future.
Jack Bernard, associate general counsel, and Sarah Daniels, associate dean of students, also spoke at the meeting about the University of Michigan’s role as a public institution in protecting the freedom of speech.
The University administration has received backlash for its response to offensive events on campus, including an incident in March when anti-Islam messages were chalked on the Diag, including statements such as “Stop Islam” and “Trump 2016.” The University did not remove the chalk, and students eventually helped wash off the writing.
Some students, such as Rackham student Banen Al-Sheemary, said at the time they were frustrated with the University's lack of action in response to the chalk drawings beyond an email from University President Mark Schlissel promoting unity.
“It’s irresponsible of the administration that we are actually out here with buckets of water and napkins to clean off these hateful messages and the administration isn’t taking care of it,” Al-Sheemary said at the time. “And not only is the administration not taking care of it, they are putting us through a really difficult process. That perpetuates these really racist and hateful stereotypes that turn into violence and turn into students of color feeling unsafe on campus.”
Controversy has also come up more recently in response to posters promoting white supremacy on campus, which the University stated they could not remove because they were posted in public posting spaces.
Bernard explained the chalk writings on the Diag could not be interfered with by the University if they were not threats of violence or other version of unprotected speech, and Daniels added that the University cannot stop people from speaking. Both Bernard and Daniels said the best ways to counteract speech was more speech.
However, BAMN member and University alum Kate Stenvig took issue with the University’s representatives, stating the incidents were threats to the community and should not be tolerated.
“ ‘Stop Islam’ chalk on the Diag is a threat,” she said.
Art & Design senior Keysha Wall, a member of BAMN, said she agreed with Stenvig and believed free speech does not apply in these instances.
“You cannot debate fascism,” Wall said. “You cannot have a discussion with fascism. You have to shut that down.”
The group also updated the assembly on BAMN member Justin Cheong’s, who was arrested and detained with possibility of deportation earlier this month, saying that his trial was successfully stopped.
In early October, the assembly had a heated debate on whether or not they could show support for Cheong’s impending deportation trial over concerns that it could cross into advocacy and lobbying.
However, the resolution ultimately passed, supported by members such as Lucky Mulpuri, a LSA senior.
“My mom was sent back for four years,” he said at the time. “It is really hard, guys. I was a very young kid and not having my mom around was one of the more difficult points in my life. I can’t reiterate this to you how hard this must be to Justin’s wife.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this story incorrectly labeled who introduced the resolution and the number of votes in opposition.