The University of Michigan Central Student Government’s 10th Assembly was sworn in over BlueJeans by third year Law student Henry Zurn Tuesday night. The meeting was the first for the candidates for executive and representative positions elected in last week’s online voting.
Public Policy junior Amanda Kaplan and LSA junior Sav Nandigama, the new president and vice president, spoke about their vision for CSG in the next year after being sworn into their roles. Kaplan and Nandigama called for the newly elected Assembly members to set aside party differences and unite to serve the student body.
“Parties are a great mechanism as far as providing some equity in the process and helping us achieve the goal of being elected, but at the end of the day, they’re not useful in the Assembly, because they get in the way of our individual decision-making,” Nandigama said. “We should never use parties as the deciding factor in how we vote or what we vote for, because that’s not what we were elected to do.”
Kaplan introduced motions to reallocate funds the Ninth Assembly promised to both student organizations and the Dean of Students’ Emergency Fund. The money allocated to the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center from CSG’s account was not taken out before remaining funds were allocated to support students during the COVID-19 outbreak. Kaplan said these motions would ensure the funds CSG had promised were properly allocated.
“When COVID-19 happened, the previous president allocated all the money in the executive discretionary account to the Dean of Students’ Emergency Fund and forgot that we had previously allocated certain amounts of money to different student organizations, and those transactions never got made,” Kaplan said. “This is money that we owe to people that we can’t take out of the Dean of Students’ Fund because that’s unfair to students who are currently using that money.”
Both initiatives passed, and $2,000 was allocated to SAPAC for an event the organization is planning and $1,000 went to MESA’s Black History Month efforts.
CSG Elections Director Mary McKillop, LSA junior, reported to the Assembly on the official results of the Winter 2020 CSG elections and the efforts of her team to promote the election online in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Advertising included four campus-wide emails, a Facebook advertising campaign and a Canvas advertisement, she said.
McKillop reported a 5 percent voter turnout rate: a significant decrease from previous elections, which typically hover between 15 and 20 percent. However, because of the current situation, she said her and her team were anticipating a lower turnout than in previous years.
“About 5 percent of the student body voted, which we recognize is a little bit low for CSG elections in the past, but this is kind of what we expected in this situation where we couldn’t change the election dates and a lot of people weren’t on campus, so there was no in-person outreach,” McKillop said. “So, I think that’s good for the situation at hand.”
The Assembly — which acts as a tiebreaker when there are ties in elections — selected Art & Design freshman Emily Tamulewicz to serve as the Assembly representative for the School of Art & Design, Education student Aisha Zafar as Education representative and Rackham student Austin Glass for Rackham representative.
The Assembly elected LSA sophomore Sam Braden — who had an ethics investigation opened into his behavior on March 10, though the inquiry was not completed prior to the election — to be the Speaker of the Assembly. Braden won the secret ballot election over Glass, who held the position in the Eighth Assembly.
“It is clear that CSG is not living up to its full potential,” Braden said. “I think this is because members are elected to the Assembly having run on policies and then are just left to figure out how to enact them on their own. The 10th Assembly needs a speaker willing to help all members in their projects, and I hope to be that speaker.”
The Assembly also elected 18 members to internal positions.
After election to Assembly Speaker, Braden presided over the rest of the meeting. He ended the meeting with a call for unity.
“I know that we just left a very contentious election, and we were all campaigning against each other,” Braden said. “I think it’s important to forget all that. We are all members of the Assembly and should start working together and forget anything that was said or done.”
Reporter Julia Rubin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.