The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government met Tuesday evening to discuss community concerns, including a recent protest led by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, which challenged the Biden-Harris administration’s support of Israel.
Ann Arbor residents Blaine Coleman and Mozhgan Savabieasfahani who attended the protest, spoke to CSG, encouraging them to discuss and pass a resolution that states, “We are against military aid to Israel.”
“An awful lot of people are going to die and we can slow it down a little bit by publicly making some noise and passing a simple human rights resolution,” Coleman said. “I remember when South Africa was an Apartheid state and we did the exact same thing and ended up succeeding with the South African people. I hope you can think about maybe (gaining support of the public) for the occupied people of Palestine.”
Savabieasfahani said she believes raising awareness for Palestinian victims is important and noted her personal connection to the situation.
“Israel has gone and killed people in Iran, my country of birth, and just three days ago, bombed my home city of Isfahan,” Savabieasfahani said. “Israel has bombed and attacked Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis and even those in Yemen. I feel that these are some of the things that a lot of Americans don’t know, that Israel is a big problem, creating wars and bombing and killing people all over the Middle East.”
LSA sophomore Emma Sklar responded to the protesters’ contributions thanking them for attending the meeting and offering her support to attendees who may have felt uncomfortable by their presentation.
“I wanted to honestly thank you guys for coming because I understand that there are a variety of perspectives that we need to honor when reflecting on these topics and it may make people you know, uncomfortable, some more than others,” Sklar said. “And I just wanted to express more so to our assembly, if anybody is feeling uncomfortable with the material that was expressed, or you don’t know how to work through it, I’m here to talk.”
Anna Raab, assembly member and LSA sophomore, said she disagreed with the statements made by Coleman and Savabieasfahani, expressing that she believes that all accounts of the situation should be recognized.
“I do believe it’s important to discuss serious topics like this, but I also think it’s important to recognize that there are two sides to every story and that there are a lot of facts missing from this specific presentation,” Raab said. “I think before considering such a strong resolution, this needs to be grounded in facts and needs to be analyzed from a wider lens.”
Raab continued to express her concerns noting that CSG’s primary purpose is to support students on the University’s campus. “I would also just like to say that as a student government, it’s never really been our goal to dive into international government and politics,” Raab said. “Our primary role is to the student body and to make this campus an inclusive space. I think that this particular request for this resolution is not inclusive of all voices and it’s not mindful of everyone’s perspective on this complex situation.”
Coleman responded to Raab and agreed with many of the claims she made, but reiterated his opinion.
“When (Raab) says there are two sides to every story, she is correct,” Coleman said. “When she says we are criticizing the government, she’s absolutely right. And when she says that we’re not speaking at all voices, again, she’s right. But we are speaking in our own voices. You have to speak in your own voice, and our voices are with the occupied people of Palestine.”
The meeting then moved on to discuss the CSG Finance Committee. The committee did not offer any resolutions at this meeting, but discussed the proposal of giving money out to Test Prep, a program designed and run by CSG to help U-M students perform well on the MCAT and LSAT each semester.
The elections director reported on the requirements and other updates regarding campaigning and the election process, with the next CSG election approaching in 37 days. Members of the elections committee met with the Turn Up, Turnout team and discussed ways they could help CSG with production advertising, which includes sign-up sheets for their general members and for Project Clean Slate volunteers.
One change the elections director reviewed was switching to a new voting system called Simply Voting, which would allow for a smoother voting process than in previous years.
Correction: The following article has been edited to include more context surrounding the quoting of sophomore Emma Sklar.
Daily Staff Reporter Jamie Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.