The University of Michigan Central Student Government held its second meeting online Tuesday night to discuss plans for the remainder of the semester amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Assembly examined the budget for CSG for spring and summer terms, addressed the issue of income continuation for work-study and non-work-study jobs on campus and amended the budget to offer refunds to students enrolled in an LSAT preparatory course that was disrupted by the cancellation of in-person classes at the University.
LSA sophomore Jack Pasquella discussed the advantages of working quickly on the income continuation policy to have it in place for students as soon as possible.
“It’s best to try and expedite where we go with this as quickly as possible, because the school year will end within the month,” Pasquella said. “We looked at a lot of other schools and how they’re handling this, be it stipend pay or emergency pay for students working during this … One that we liked was the Northwestern system, so if you were a 10-hour-a-week worker before losing your job, you would be paid for the rest of the semester at the 10-hour-per-week level.”
Full-time college students largely do not qualify for unemployment benefits, and they are ineligible for certain provisions in the recent $2 trillion federal stimulus bill, including individual checks for $1,200 being sent to qualified adults.
Public Policy junior Damian Chessare noted the disparity in government assistance. Chessare also emphasized the importance of the University catching up to other institutions in order to support students.
“What we are trying to do is what a lot of other Big Ten schools have done,” Chessare said. “A lot of those schools have been able to pay their students.”
LSA junior Annie Mintun asked Chessare about the proposed resolution and how its benefits could potentially result in two paychecks for students who are also receiving unemployment benefits from the federal government.
“My understanding is that most student employees cannot apply for unemployment insurance anyway, so I am still not confident that they would not qualify for that program,” Chesare said. “This resolution is more for the University to think about a solution for these students and to follow suit of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.”
Nursing freshman Mikayla Morgan noted how employee compensation is being handled differently through Michigan Medicine.
“Michigan Medicine functions completely differently,” Morgan said. “They have a (policy) with up to 80 hours of PTO (paid time off) for people who can’t come in or aren’t coming in. So, part of Michigan has already made a motion to solve this issue and still provide their employees with pay even when they are not working.”
Engineering sophomore Shub Argha discussed the urgency of this resolution for students struggling without a steady source of income.
“Getting this done sooner rather than later would be beneficial to many of these students who are not getting paid during this time,” Argha said. “I know a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, and getting someone to send out an official email on the steps for continuing to get paid … in a (way) that everyone had access to it that would be good.”
Rackham student Austin Glass proposed an amendment to edit the original resolution regarding pay for student workers. The amendment passed and was referred back to the communications committee. CSG President Amanda Kaplan, Public Policy junior, and Vice President Sav Nandigama, LSA junior, noted they will bring up concerns surrounding this issue during a meeting with Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones scheduled for Wednesday.
Glass also discussed the CSG-run LSAT prep course that was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak and its implications on the CSG budget.
“CSG ran for part of this semester a test-prep program for the LSAT under the supervision of (Assembly Speaker) Sam (Braden) and a previous law representative,” Glass said. “Given the international pandemic, some classes needed to be canceled. It is only fair that we provide those students who have already paid us for these courses a refund based on the number of courses they needed to miss.”
The amendment to provide these refunds passed unanimously through the Assembly.
Daily Staff Reporter Sarah Payne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.