SGA passes resolutions checking CMU’s business ethics and Title IX advocacy
Both pieces of legislation proposed at Central Michigan University’s Student Government Association Nov. 18 meeting passed.
The road there was just a little rocky.
The first resolution, written by Membership Director Brett Houle, called for CMU to vet its business partners’ ethics and to not do business with entities who don’t share its “core values of inclusiveness, social responsibility, and compassion.” It cited Chick-Fil-A, Jordan World Circus and Aramark, which caters residence hall dining areas, as unethical partners.
The second, written by Vice President Lyndi Rose, urges greater advocacy from CMU for its Title IX resources and increasing the accessibility of options for reporting incidents of sexual assault and discrimination. Title IX is a law that prohibits sexual discrimination in federally-funded education programs, such as state universities.
SGA meetings take place 7 p.m. every Monday in Bovee University Center Auditorium and are free for all students to attend.
Rose’s resolution passed with no discussion at all, only an explanation of its purpose. It was Houle’s ethics resolution that resulted in more than 30 minutes of debate.
At one point the members voted to start a five-minute countdown on the discussion. When it finished, discussion continued. Voices erupted around the room as SGA members vented to their neighbors; the gavel banged for order.
The members gave rounds of snaps for condemnations of Jordan World Circus and Aramark’s work with private prisons, but SGA’s feelings about Chick-Fil-A proved less consistent. Some felt its presence in the resolution was righteous, but others felt it was ironic to be excluding select groups in the name of inclusivity. Others felt the resolution would be better served if it didn’t mention any specific partners at all.
Chicago sophomore Alejandra Ultreras opposed the idea of any organization being banned from campus for actions some may see as unethical and others may see as acceptable.
“The universe revolves around business, and not moral values or beliefs,” Ultreras said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for them to ban people who do not line up with CMU’s values, because realistically, whoever put those values together, that’s their opinions, but not everyone on this university agrees with those values.”
Montgomery, Alabama junior Chelsey Shafer noted that Chick-Fil-A recently announced it would no longer donate to several faith-based groups, including Salvation Army and one called out in Houle’s resolution for anti-LGBTQ activity: Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Instead, it would direct the money to address education, homelessness and hunger.
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” House Leader Anna Whitwham responded. “If they decide this is what they’re going to do and their actions prove that, then they are more than welcome to come to our campus… but they have to prove that.”
Houle said the conversation was distracted by the question of whether Chick-Fil-A, or even Christians at large, were being discriminated against, and that the resolution was targeted at actions, not identities.
“It’s not to say Chick-Fil-A is a horrible entity in itself,” he said. “That’s not the case. The case is saying Chick-Fil-A is actively putting money into organizations that discriminate against an identity that we have on our campus… We’re going against where the money is being led to.”
“We have values for a reason,” Press Secretary Kaitlyn Prebelich said. “I think if we’re not holding our vendors to those values and giving our money toward them, then why do we have values in the first place?”
Despite how divided the room seemed, Houle’s resolution passed unanimously in the senate and the house passed it 58-16, with eight members abstaining.
Houle and Prebelich stayed after the meeting for nearly an hour with Ultreras and Shafer for a more intimate conversation about their positions and SGA’s representation of the student body. They migrated throughout the University Center as staff began closing sections of it for the night, and as they left, Houle remarked on how great it would be if the actual government could have such constructive conversations.
Three more resolutions to vote on next week
After the two votes, SGA heard proposals for three more resolutions, which will be eligible to be voted on at the last meeting of the semester on Nov. 25.
House Representatives Max Ranger and Josh Wright presented a pair of resolutions focused on parking.
One resolution advocates for Lot 16 near the North Art Studio to be open for regular parking after 2 a.m., for student employees to be allowed to park in the lot closest to their place of work, and for changing five parking spots in Lot 29, near the clinic in Foust Hall, into spots designated for patients only.
Ranger and Wright’s other parking legislation calls for students’ first fine for parking in an incorrect lot to be lowered from $25 to $10. The fine would not be lowered for students who park in a handicap spot without a license to do so and would not retroactively apply to tickets already given.
For students who get fined for parking without having pass, the resolution suggests deducting their fines from the price of a parking pass if they eventually buy one. It also proposes a grace period for students who’ve purchased their parking pass but haven’t received it.
The “green study space” for the land where Barnes Hall formerly stood, which Senator Brandon McDonald’s academic affairs committee has been brainstorming all year, made its debut in the third resolution, co-authored by Sustainability Committee Chair Kalli Walz and supported by Facilities Management.
If passed, it would establish an SGA “claim” over the area. It proposes several additions to the small plot of land which aim to improve, not replace, the green space already there. Improvements could include group hammock stations, solar-powered picnic tables for charging phones, sustainable vegetation and showcases of student artwork.