The University of Michigan Central Student Government’s executive branch has transitioned its funds to support emergency resources within the University. While the weekly CSG Assembly meetings will now take place virtually, all future CSG executive programs and events have been canceled, according to a statement from President Ben Gerstein posted on social media Friday.
The announcement comes two days after University President Mark Schlissel announced classes will be held online beginning Monday due to the threat of COVID-19. On Friday, Schlissel encouraged all students who are able to leave campus and return home. In his post, Gerstein recognized the mixed emotions students may feel about the University’s decision.
“Sometimes things come to an unexpected end,” Gerstein wrote. “As evidenced by this week, our lives can suddenly change and we are forced to adapt to unfamiliar situations. I know these last few days have brought significant uncertainty, anxiety, sadness, and fear to the University community. In times like these, we should not forget the strength our community possesses even if we are physically isolated from each other.”
In Gerstein’s Facebook post, he said the Executive Team has reallocated its budget to provide $10,000 to the Maize and Blue Cupboard, a food pantry based out of Betsy Barbour Residence Hall for students, and $10,000 to the Dean of Students’ Student Emergency Fund, which is available for students facing unusual situations or hardships with a one-time monetary assistance of up to $500.
After noting the budget changes, Gerstein thanked the student body for allowing him to serve as president. He noted CSG’s work to ensure financial access and privacy for students seeking testing for sexually transmitted diseases or infections and its passage of a resolution calling for Big Ten schools to freeze fossil fuel investments, as well as the organization’s support for increasing mental health resources on campus and renewing a scholarship to mitigate monetary barriers to leadership.
“It has been an honor to be a partner in so many important movements driven by students on our campus,” Gerstein said. “There are endless other accomplishments and moments of progress I could name—and none of these would have been possible without the many students, organizations, and friends who contributed to these efforts.”
The CSG debate, originally scheduled for Wednesday evening, has been canceled. Spring elections for the executive branch and Assembly are still expected to take place online March 25-26.
Gerstein thanked the University community for the opportunity to help make changes to improve student life on campus. He said his work will continue until a new administration is elected.
“The list of individuals to thank is too extensive, but to everyone in CSG, and all students on campus who spend their hours, days, and weeks fighting for others: thank you for showing me what it looks like to strive for better, both as a leader and as a human being,” Gerstein wrote. “This unexpected closing to my term as CSG President is bittersweet. Thus far, this has been the greatest personal honor of my life, and I am forever grateful to those who trusted me with this responsibility. Although many of us might not be physically on campus, this work does not stop. I will continue supporting students through this challenging time until the next administration takes office.”
He also reminded students of the importance of keeping love and justice as central components of the University community.
“To close, I’m constantly inspired by the late Reinhold Niebuhr’s quote: ‘Love is the motive, justice is the instrument,’” Gerstein wrote. “We are—and can always be —a community of love at Michigan, and one that diligently works towards justice.”
Daily News Editor Alex Harring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org