Students Allies for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) proposed a resolution for the Central Student Government (CSG) to form a committee to investigate investments in American corporations that profit off of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the State of Israel. The resolution was submitted on Tuesday, March 11th, and was expected to be voted on the following Tuesday, March 18th. The resolution was signed and supported by 36 student organizations.
CSG Meeting 1: Tuesday, March 18th
Among 250-300 students in support of the resolution showed up for the vote on Tuesday. The size of the CSG chambers was too small to accommodate everyone, and the fire department arrived to tell students to leave. Supporters of the resolution sat until CSG was forced to relocate students to the ballroom in the Michigan Union, the largest meeting space in the building. Ten students, five supporting the resolution and five opposing the resolution, were allowed to address the assembly during “community concerns”. Dozens of Palestinian students and allies in support of the resolution had prepared speeches, and were unable to give them because of this system.
After the divestment resolution was read, a representative voted to “table” the resolution “indefinitely”. The motion was passed by a show of hands, and representatives were allowed time to debate the proposal. A leader of SAFE and author of the resolution asked supporters to stand up, and nearly everyone present did. The assembly voted 21-yes, 15-no, 1-abstention. Time for public comment was not extended.
After the resolution was tabled, hundreds of students began chanting “divest, divest, divest” forcing CSG to convene their meeting and leave the ballroom. Many of the students then moved to the steps of the Michigan Union to hold an impromptu rally. Students silenced by the tabling of the bill and silencing of debate, and the restrictive “community concerns”, were given the opportunity to give their speeches at this point.
Many present at the assembly used the hashtag #UMDivest to tweet photos and reactions.
Sit-In: Wednesday, March 19th (Day 1) to Monday, March 24th (Day 6)
Student leaders met Tuesday night, and after much discussion realized that this wasn’t simply about a failure of CSG to defend human rights, but a failure of CSG to be held accountable to their constituents and the rights of students (particularly from marginalized communities) to be heard and taken seriously. To hold CSG accountable, five Calls for Accountability were drafted and an indefinite sit-in proposed in the CSG chambers until the calls were met.
More than a hundred students were present the first night of the sit-in, and hundreds have gone in-and-out throughout. The space has been used for meetings and mobilization, and as a “safe space” for students that don’t have one on campus. The Dean of Students, Vice President of Student Affairs; President, Vice President, and Speaker of the Assembly, have met with students in the space to listen to their concerns. Due to institutional support from administration, students have been leaving the room every night and returning in the morning.
The President of the Student Body, Michael Proppe, released a statement on the indefinite tabling of the resolution on Sunday.
Many present at the sit-in have been using the hashtag #UMDivestSitIn to tweet photos and information.
CSG Meeting 2: Tuesday, March 25th (day 7)
A second CSG Meeting will be held in the Michigan Union Ballroom at 7:30 PM, on 530 South State Street. Staff at the University of Michigan expect upwards of 500 people in attendance.