The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government met Tuesday to introduce and discuss a proposal of the executive team’s new liaison program to be integrated within all campus organizations.
The mission of the program is to provide a platform for students and their organizations to externally address possible issues within their groups. It also aims to foster a greater connection between campus organizations.
According to LSA senior Sena Adjei, CSG senior policy advisor, this initiative came about after concerns arose on how to make the campus more connected and make CSG more visible campus-wide.
“This is the exec team’s best answer to one of the most serious ills that campus has seen,” Adjei said. “The University of Michigan is such a big campus and exists in a bunch of completely isolated pockets and CSG has not been effective enough in accessing those pockets and making sure they are seen by us and supported by us, so we are going out to them, we are asking them to come to us and meet with us regularly so we can serve with them regularly.”
The proposed organization of the program is to use a cohort system in which student organizations will be separated into groups. To determine the groups, CSG offered organizations several different categories, such as “service,” “identity” and “professional,” which they could place themselves into. To best represent their groups, organizations had the option to place themselves group into multiple categories.
“In the conversations to see how we can really empower the students and give them the platform, we decided to compartmentalize student orgs based on their identities and based on their missions,” LSA sophomore Jacob Pollitt, CSG external relations officer, said. “Hopefully by bringing them together, they’ll be able to share their experiences, share their information, begin to understand sort of how similar orgs face similar issues and maybe how they’re different and how through the collaboration they can sort of help each other with the issues that they face.”
Every student organization will appoint a liaison who will work with Adjei and Pollitt. Each liaison will funnel into a cohort, which will interact directly with CSG to create action plans, facilitate activities and provide necessary resources through bi-weekly meetings.
As part of the program, CSG would collaborate with student organizations to establish workshops and seminars for the groups to attend, potentially discussing topics such as money management, technology and social media.
“The seminars that we are going to be hosting, they optimize the benefits of organizations,” Adjei said. “Workshops can focus on ways the administration as an entity can work with organizations more directly to remove barriers that they’re facing or to help their agendas.”
According to Pollitt, the liaison program will provide multiple short-term and long-term benefits for the University. Some benefits include opportunities to build networks, being able to use CSG as a platform for advocacy and increased accessibility of CSG initiatives.
“Accessibility to other CSG projects, current and future, that’s a really important thing to touch on,” Pollitt said. “We do have projects in the work and the Liaison Program will sort of smooth the way in terms of implementation that not only will benefit the student orgs and their experience on campus, but also will help CSG achieve the visibility that is necessary.”
During the presentation, LSA sophomore Amanda Kaplan, CSG vice chair of the finance committee, raised a concern about the logistics behind integrating student organizations with a pre-established internal governmental structure.
“What is your plan for different types of student groups that kind of already have an established government hierarchy like sorority and fraternity life, how are you going to incorporate them into other cohorts?” Kaplan asked.
In response, Adjei and Pollitt said even if groups such as sororities and fraternities already have their own hierarchy, by coming to CSG, they can receive additional help and have an additional resource to overcome any barriers. Ultimately, they said, CSG would just be an additional platform to help make their voices and perspectives heard.
Toward the end of their presentation, Adjei and Pollitt proposed their goals for the program in the next five years, stating they hope for an annual summit, guest presenters, consulting sessions and more.
“Ideally we want the entire campus to be in on this,” Adjei said. “In five years we want to be up and running fully efficiently at maximum velocity. We want every corner of campus to at least know that we are there as a resource and have a direct line to us.”