The University of Michigan Central Student Government convened virtually via Zoom Tuesday night to discuss a report seeking the recall of Speaker Sam Braden.
Twelve members of the current CSG Student Assembly signed a letter dated Friday calling for Braden’s resignation. If he is recalled, Braden, who is an LSA junior, would no longer be speaker of the Assembly but could remain a part of the Assembly as an LSA representative. Braden declined to resign on Monday.
Rackham student Siddharth Chaudhari, one of the authors of the report, said the request for the recall of the speaker was the result of multiple alleged incidents of improper conduct by Braden.
“We think that Speaker Braden has started an alarming trend in that he continually seems to wish to violate the neutrality of the office of the speaker,” Chaudhari said. “We think (this) is not the direction the Assembly should pursue in the long run.”
Braden responded to the report by noting that he had admitted to his mismanagement of a CSG-sponsored LSAT test prep program, adding that he is open to feedback. Braden also mentioned he wants CSG to be more collaborative.
“A lot of the complaints are incredibly, incredibly, valid. I actually wrote a detailed response to every single complaint,” Braden said. “I’m very amenable to reforms if it comes to me in a way that I feel is in good faith. The way I received this (letter), I didn’t feel like it.”
While reviewing Braden’s conduct, the meeting moved into a general discussion of members’ grievances with the body, with representatives complaining about the work environment and lack of collegiality.
LSA junior Sophia Barnes spoke about the difficulty of being a new member and feeling disconnected from the other members and the Assembly's procedures.
“I have felt very discouraged since coming on board and I don’t know if it’s normal for new members to feel very confused and out of the loop with a lot of things going on,” Barnes said. “I’m feeling a little discouraged, as a new member, and I wanted to make a mark. I want to do stuff but I don’t even know where to begin.”
LSA junior Sam Burnstein spoke about how Assembly members had brought up concerns about Braden’s actions in the past. He claimed that even after repeated discussions and a formal mediation with several members and Braden regarding misconduct, the Assembly saw no changes in his behavior.
“I think the consensus was unanimous that we felt unheard. We felt unlistened to. We felt that we walked away from that meeting feeling more frustrated,” Burnstein said. “We had another call like that sometime later, more texts and more individual conversations. We didn’t feel like there was a change in the behavior, which is why we are presenting this report.”
Chaudhari also highlighted how Braden’s response to the letter requesting his resignation failed to address the concerns raised.
“It seems to me that he did not take any of our criticisms on board and chose instead to highlight what he has been doing in his performance of his role as a speaker,” Chaudhari said. “That is not sufficient in terms of addressing concerns that we brought to him.”
In his letter responding to authors of the letter seeking to recall him, Braden said he wished they had spoken with him directly so he could address their complaints.
“I would like to thank you for taking the time to address your concerns to me formally,” Braden wrote. “However, I am deeply disappointed by the manner in which you have brought up your concerns, as well as your implication that I am unfit for this role.”
In an interview with The Daily Monday, Braden pushed back on the criticism outlined in the letter.
“In total disclosure, I do not enjoy this job at all,” Braden said. “Whatever I do, people get upset. If I give people extra time to ask questions, people get upset because I’m helping the members too much. If I give people not enough time, the same people are upset because I’m restricting their time. So this job has been really difficult to do just because of some of the people who’ve made it really toxic.”
The report indicates that a motion will be made to call for Braden’s recall on Sept. 29.
The Assembly also confirmed LSA sophomore Sribharat Koripella as vice chair of the Student Organization Funding Committee, LSA senior Justin Williams as chief programming officer, LSA junior Grace Roberts as sustainability senior policy adviser and LSA junior Hershy Jalluri as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission chair.
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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