Included in this week’s Central Student Government positions is a student representative seat on the University of Michigan’s Police Department Oversight Committee, run through the University’s Human Resources Department and responsible for monitoring the University’s police response to disturbances on campus.
The creation of the committee is mandated by state law, adhering to Act 120 of the Public Acts of 1990 of the State of Michigan. The committee considers complaints against the University’s police department, and also recommends changes and disciplinary measuring to the Division of Public Safety and Security.
It is made up of six members: two students, one of which will be voted in this week, as well as two faculty members and two staff members. The other student position will be filled in the next CSG election. The current student positions are held by Business senior Jacob Glinke, who is rotating off after this election, and LSA sophomore Lisa Pomerantz. Students hold ex-officio positions, and cannot vote — they run for one year-long term on the committee, as opposed to faculty and staff, which both run for two terms.
Two candidates are running for this seat, one from Your Michigan and one from newMICH — though this may be the last year that candidates have affiliation with parties. Public Policy sophomore Jacob Pearlman, CSG Student General Counsel, put forth a resolution the the assembly at Tuesday’s CSG meeting clarifying that for next year’s election, candidates will have to run independant of a party. If passed, this resolution would ban future candidates from attaching to a CSG platform.
LSA sophomore Olivia Furano, the newMICH candidate for the role, said she thought the seat allows students to have more communication with DPSS to clear any confusion about on-campus rules regarding issues such as alcohol, drugs and sexual misconduct.
“I think that the committee is important,” she said “Especially for first-year students, there’s a lot of confusion about the difference between University of Michigan rules and Ann Arbor police rules. There’s a lot of confusion around medical amnesty, when to MIP and high risk game days, and of course, sexual misconduct, which is a big thing we’ve been talking about this year with the policy being revised in the University.”
Furano said having a CSG representation on DPSS can help bridge gaps of information between students and the police department, which she said she believes has been an issue in the past.
“As UMPD representative, I think that I can help the UMPD be more transparent with students and understand what’s going on and that there is not this big distance between policy that’s being created by the University and student,” Furano said. “Because if students don’t understand and they can’t engage with the policy, then how are they going to be able to follow it?”
LSA sophomore Jacqueline Reingold is also running for the seat. A member of Your Michigan, Reingold is currently CSG’s chief operations officer. She said she was inspired to run after attending the American Association of America’s Big Ten Conference and hearing the initiatives the other universities have taken to enhance their public safety. Reingold has also worked closely with Beyond the Diag,
“I feel this is an important position that hasn’t been necessarily utilized to its fullest,” Reingold said. “I would love to be that student voice and to represent those students.”
Reingold said though she has not personally experienced issues with UMPD, she’s heard from students who felt they have recieved unjustified charges and were unsure of who to turn to.
“I think that what’s been happening across the country really brings this committee into light,”Reingold said. “All of the protests on other college campuses, I think it’s an important time for this committee to have a voice and stand strong as it represents students.”
Aside from the student seats, the other four positions on the committee are selected by a mix of nominations and voting. One of the faculty spots is also selected through a governance body — in this case, the Faculty Senate — instead of nomination. Nominees for the other faculty and staff spots are currently being decided. Faculty member nominations can be made through March 25.
David Potter, secretary of the University Faculty Senate and professor of Greek and Latin, said the committee suggests different ways to approach situations on campus to the police department. Potter, who runs the election process, added that the committee plays an important role by providing community guidance to DPSS.
“There have been times in the past when the department has responded to issues in ways that, while consistent with its mission, have been rather more aggressive than are the norm in an academic environment,” Potter said. “This was particularly the case with the issue of trespass orders.”