The Central Student Government voted down a proposed resolution on Oct. 7 to condemn the killing of Michael Brown and to stand in solidarity with the protestors of Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown was a Black teenager who, though unarmed, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson. In response to his death, the protesting citizens of Ferguson were met with forceful police action of various forms including tear gas and detainment. This has lead to a national debate on police militarization and legal treatment of minorities.
The CSG resolution was proposed Sept. 16 and then postponed from a Sept. 23 meeting to last Tuesday. Though three amendments were passed, the overall resolution was ultimately rejected. It’s reasonable to assume that the extensive scope of political and legal complexities and unknowns surrounding the events in Ferguson fall outside of the CSG’s capacity and role on campus. However, a lack of explanation from CSG has caused an outrage amongst members of the student body, who are questioning the rationale behind the decision.
Regardless of whether or not the resolution should have been passed, CSG has begun to demonstrate a patterned failure to clearly communicate with students, a key factor in public backlash and anger. Following the rejection of last Tuesday’s resolution to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, little to no public explanation was offered for the decision. Similarly, in March 2014, a lack of official explanation or statement was offered following CSG’s decision to table a high profile resolution backed by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality. The resolution called for the University to divest its interests in companies accused of violating human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. CSG initially decided to permanently table the resolution without any clear justification. This resulted in a response from hundreds of students, including members of SAFE and its supporters to have a sit-in at the Michigan Union in protest.
In addition to these incidents, while the CSG website does provide detailed minutes of Student Assembly meetings, it only lists meetings up to April 2014. After cross checking with documented Student Assembly minutes, it appears that the most current resolution posted on the website is from February 2014.
Passing down judgment and decisions without a clear explanation leaves the rest of the student body in the dark. Rejected resolutions receive little feedback and thus no direction for how to edit, rewrite or proceed with their championed cause. Unexplained rejections or approvals of resolutions create a sense of randomness to the process, as few people outside the Student Assembly and CSG understand the underlying logic.
Though members of the Central Student Government shouldn’t be expected to give individual explanations, after each vote over a resolution a spokesperson for the majority opinion in the Student Assembly should consider providing a statement for why they came to their decision. This would allow for increased transparency and could provide the student body with closure and allow for improvements to rejected resolutions.
In general, there have at times been a relative disconnect between the student body and CSG that needs to be mended, and CSG can begin this process by improving communication.