This is an excerpt from the Daily’s 2014 Orientation Issue. To read the rest of the issue, click here.
At a large university like ours, it is important that student voices permeate the affairs of the administration, allowing students to have a say in policies and actions that directly affect their overall college experience.
Whether or not you’re interested in joining student government, it is important to have an awareness of the “powers that be,” so to speak. With that said, here is a rundown of student government at the University, flush with names and buzzwords to provide a basic understanding of its role on campus.
The Central Student Government is the main body of student government on campus, with representatives from each of the University’s various colleges. The president and vice president for the 2014-2015 school year are Public Policy senior Bobby Dishell and LSA junior Meagan Shokar, respectively.
“CSG is important because it not only gives students the opportunity to lead and affect policy on campus, but it also serves as a launching pad for countless projects, clubs, ideas and initiatives,” Dishell wrote in a statement.
Much like the federal government, CSG is comprised of three branches: executive, legislative and judiciary. The executive branch includes the executive committee and roughly 25 executive commissions.
Elections for student government representatives don’t take place until late March, so students interested in CSG can take a trial run by applying to join a commission that aligns with their interests.
A list of the executive commissions is available on the CSG website, and students can also apply to create and chair their own commission by drafting a proposal and submitting it to the executive committee at email@example.com.
One of the most important of the existing commissions is the Student Organization Funding Commission (also known by its acronym, pronounced “soph-see”). SOFC is the headlining “launching pad,” as Dishell put it, providing funding to University clubs and student organizations.
Perhaps CSG’s most prominent body is its Student Assembly, which meets on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Union. The assembly discusses a variety of campus issues, from the perceived need for napping stations in Shapiro Undergraduate Library — known more casually as the UgLi (sounds like “ugly”) — to racial climate. All assembly meetings are open to the public, so students are welcome to sit in if they are so inclined.
Some of the CSG’s most prominent outcomes from the last year include:
- Working with the Athletics Department to reform the widely unpopular general admission policy for football games
- Initiating a late-night, ‘Night Owl’ bus route, Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. in an effort to increase campus safety
- Passing a resolution in support of the #BBUM (Being Black at the University of Michigan) movement in response to perceived racial inequity on campus
- Striking down a resolution to investigate companies the University invests in that have been accused of human rights violations in Palestine
LSA Student Government specifically serves the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. In its mission statement, the body outlines four goals — changing policy when student interests are involved; improving students’ well-being; protecting the rights of LSA students; and representing LSA students in matters “pertaining to academics and their general welfare both on and around campus,” according to the LSA-SG website.
LSA seniors Natasha Dabrowski and Corey Walsh will serve as president and vice president, respectively, of the LSA-SG for the 2014-2015 school year.
The LSA-SG has two rounds of voting for its representatives: one in the fall semester and one in the winter. The governing body holds mass meetings at the beginning of each semester for interested students, and its office is located in G325 Mason Hall.
The LSA-SG has general meetings every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in 1427 Mason Hall. Unelected students who attend three meetings in a row are subsequently given the title of “associate representative,” and are granted speaking rights in the meetings.
In addition, students wishing to affect change remotely can give the LSA-SG feedback via email by sending a message to ThisSucks@umich.edu.
Like CSG, the LSA-SG has 10 committees which focus on different aspects of student life. One of these committees also focuses on funding for LSA student groups.
In the last year, the LSA-SG made an effort to emphasize the importance of a liberal arts degree in this day and age, launching its first Alumni Connections event to reassure students that choosing a major is about following intellectual interests, not brooding over the future.
Furthermore, each year, one LSA-SG executive sits on the LSA Curriculum Committee, which certifies LSA courses, and may subsequently work with LSA-SG reps to recommend procedural changes to the LSA Deans. In the last school year, these suggestions were largely focused on reforming the College’s Race and Ethnicity requirement, which, particularly in the wake of the
#BBUM movement, has faced calls for reevaluation and improvement.
The College of Engineering also has its own student governing body, called the University of Michigan Engineering Council. If you’re not catching on by now, most organizations at Michigan go by their acronyms; therefore, the council is casually known as UMEC (you-meck).
Engineering seniors Max Olender and David Hershey are the 2014-2015 president and vice president, respectively, of UMEC.
Seeing as the Engineering facilities are on North Campus, so are UMEC’s weekly meetings — Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Herbert H. Dow building (classroom 1013).
UMEC membership is, according to the body’s website, restricted to Engineering students, which include any students in the College of Engineering, Computer Science majors in the College of LSA, and graduate students with concentrations in engineering.
Membership is granted at the president’s discretion, and members gain tenure, or the right to vote, by attending two of any three consecutive council meetings. Conversely, a voting representative can lose tenure if he/she misses two consecutive meetings.
Like the other bodies of student government, UMEC provides funding for groups under its jurisdiction, which makes it a valuable resource.