As most students know from experience, group work can be tiresome. The Central Student Government’s University Council is learning this the hard way.

The University Council was created in 2010 as part of CSG’s new constitution and is one of two entities that make up the legislative branch, the other being the Student Assembly. It is comprised of one representative from each school’s respective government.

Despite good intentions, the group seems to be having trouble getting off the ground this year. Attendance has been poor at the group’s biweekly meetings.

The council approved a CSG election director at last Wednesday night’s meeting, but only five schools were there to make the decision.

Michael Benson, Rackham Student Government president and RSG representative on the UC, said though the council may be having trouble, its purpose is clear: to foster collaboration between student governments at the various schools and colleges.

Benson acknowledged that UC is not living up to its potential. As a contributor to the UC’s constitution, he thinks there may be a core problem.

“Well, the fact that under our constitution the University Council has no real authority for anything is a problem.”

CSG vice president Omar Hashwi, the UC president, seemed more optimistic.

“I see the UC as a body on campus that is very highly respected by the students, by the administrators, with a lot of authority to make change on campus,” Hashwi said.

Hashwi also acknowledged that the UC has issues but seemed hopeful for future progress.

“Because this is very new — let’s say it hasn’t taken off yet,” Hashwi said. “I think that it (the UC) has a lot of potential, and most of it is untapped.”

When asked about the lack of meeting attendance, Hashwi said he’s unsure how exactly to solve the problem.

However, Benson said he believes graduate school governments tend to contact each other directly instead of going through the UC.

Another issue that may be stunting the progress of the UC is the lack of available information about the council.

If someone looks on CSG’s website for specifics, they find a link to the UC’s minutes, membership and resolutions. However, all of these links lead to blank pages.

The UC’s next meeting is Wednesday, March 27, at which University President Mary Sue Coleman will be in attendance.

Hashwi believes the administration understands the importance of the UC and knows it represents the student voice. Although not all has gone as planned for the UC, he said he is not discouraged.

“We’ve been trying our absolute best to make it the most impactful it can be,” Hashwi said. “It has not reached its potential, but we are getting very close.”

Follow Stephen Yaros on Twitter at @StephenYaros.
Follow THE INSTITUTION on Twitter at @TMDinstitution.

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