In a plea to disillusioned students, CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, released a statement Wednesday night discouraging them from boycotting Saturday’s football game “under the lights” against Penn State. His end message: #StandByBlue.

Dishell was responding to a loosely organized plan to protest the game on MGoBlog. The boycott would have students gather outside the gates to each section before the game but not enter, subsequently giving the appearance of an empty student section on national television.

MGoBlog is a Michigan sports blog centered on Wolverine athletics, according to the website. It is run by a University alum and is largely catered to University alumni. The rally to fire University Athletic Director Dave Brandon Sept. 30 was also initiated by a comment on the MGoBlog site. The event ultimately mobilized current students to gather outside of University President Mark Schlissel’s house and demand Brandon’s immediate dismissal.

Dishell met with Brandon Thursday morning to discuss student concerns. Dishell said he will reveal some of the department’s future plans early next week.

“We are the victors and best,” Dishell wrote in his statement. “We create effective change from the bleakest of challenges, we utilize activism and enthusiasm to implement new policies, and we strike out in new directions when the chance presents itself.”

“But we don’t do these things – we don’t leap to conclusions or take on new projects – until we’ve completed the first step: trust,” he added. “Trusting the team, its leaders, and those who help it develop – that is how we open doors to a brighter future.”

As confirmed by a search of MCommunity, all respondents to Dishell’s statement in the comments section of the CSG website were alumni. In addition to thoughts posted on MGoBlog and the CSG website, recent data analysis conducted by The Michigan Daily revealed that the majority of signatures on the CSG petition to fire Brandon were also graduates.

University alum Joseph Lechtner said he agreed with Dishell’s sentiment that students must support their athlete peers on football Saturday. That, however, was why he endorsed the boycott.

“As you clearly state, it’s critical to support the players off and on the field,” Lechtner wrote in his comment. “With the current AD in place, the correct coaching staff will never be here in Ann Arbor and we’ll continue to let down the next group of Michigan Student Athletes.”

Law School student Zachary Robock added commentary in support of Dishell’s statement, writing that he is a proponent of Brandon’s firing, “But … waiting outside the game is not the way to send this message.”

“Regardless of the intended message, an empty student section is a signal to our players that we don’t support them,” Robock wrote. “We should not be airing our concerns over Dave Brandon by undermining our support in the football team.”

In a phone interview Thursday, Dishell said he understands the student body’s call for a personnel change, but feels that working to create effective policy changes within the preexisting boundaries will be the most realistic method of creating a positive student experience.

As to Brandon, Dishell said meeting with the Athletic Director was a humanizing experience, and explained Brandon is different than the pejorative way some students portray him.

“He’s someone who we’re looking to build a relationship with to bridge the gap that exists between students and the Athletics Department,” Dishell said. “Absolutely it’s going to take time but I can tell you, the way to build relationships is not by going out and attacking someone. At the end of the day, agree with him or disagree with him on certain things, he’s still our athletic director.”

To mitigate this perceived gap, Dishell said CSG will soon be releasing a survey where students can respond to questions and publish their criticisms of the Athletic Department, which he will parse through with Brandon in subsequent meetings.

Although he couldn’t reveal the exact plans for working with the department until next week, he hinted that they will entail setting up a new, streamlined way for students to communicate with the Athletic Department, while making administrators more transparent and available to the student body.

“I’m still going to go to represent the student voice, but the way to do that is not by boycotting,” Dishell said.

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