The University of Michigan's Central Student Government convened Tuesday evening to discuss underrepresentation of students in STEM fields and the conflicts of interest present in the University endowment. The assembly also voted on resolutions regarding the availability of resources through Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the greater use of clean energy sources by the University.
The meeting began with a presentation from guest speaker Jeff Irwin, former Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives and LSA student government alum. Irwin told the assembly about the history of the Ann Arbor Tenants' Union and the importance of students being informed of their rights as tenants. Many housing contracts contain illegalities students may not be aware of, according to Irwin. These contract issues contribute to the broader concern regarding student housing in Ann Arbor, on campus and off.
“Off-campus housing is the biggest issue that every student has to deal with here at the University of Michigan … This (is) an issue that connects all students,” Irwin said.
As the election for new CSG representatives approaches, the assembly touched on the need to remain civil and fair during campaigning and election season. Guest speaker Brian Koziara, a University Law Student and Yale School of Management student, stressed to assembly members the importance of respect and politeness during the election process.
“Remember to be civil, and to be kind, “ Koziara said. “(You) should act like the CSG you want to see in the world."
Community concerns included those of food insecurity on campus. The University is the only university in the Big Ten that does not have a university-sponsored food pantry available to students, according to the assembly. According to the speakers and CSG President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, Ann Arbor is currently considered a food desert, with the nearest grocery store a bus or car ride away from campus.
“I think this is an important first step,” Sarkar said.
Additionally, with the limited dining hall hours and lack of affordable nutritious food options near campus, pressure is being put on the University to invest resources into addressing this issue. A resolution was introduced during the meeting to push the University to provide both initial and consistent funding for a food bank for students, as well as the possibility of granting financial aid to students who are considered "food insecure."
Sarkar mentioned efforts to implement a new Wellness Zone on North Campus, following the creation of the first location in the Michigan Union in 2011. There are also plans to host a meet-and-greet event in the coming weeks in order for students to engage with their CSG representatives. The release of CSG’s second annual demographic report has been proposed as well.
The meeting concluded with the passing of multiple resolutions, including further exploration into the University’s potential transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources, and further revision of the CSG election code.