ANN ARBOR — The Central Student Government meeting at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor was filled with tension when the body proposed a resolution on Tuesday evening that would end several years of attendance and speeches towards individuals who continuously raise awareness about the occupation of Palestine by Israel.
Ann Arbor resident Blaine Coleman, Mozhgan Savabieasfahani and other activists have consistently spoken at the meetings for years now urging the student body to make a proposal to divest against Israel. In the proposed resolution on Tuesday, non-students would only be given an opportunity of one time per semester to address the assemblies.
Per the proposed resolution, members of the community can still address the assembly if the topic of their address is relevant to CSG business and is approved by the speaker. Because the topic of divesting against Israel would be considered an off-topic subject, it would most likely mean the issue will not be addressed more than once a semester. This did not fly well with the activists, urging the student government to not vote on the resolution because it would limit the voice of the Ann Arbor community.
"By trying to silence the only voices who bring these atrocities to you … you are doing nobody any favors," Savabieasfahani said. "By callously ignoring lives of Palestinians, you are allowing huge injustices to go on. I hold you responsible for the death of many thousands of people."
Senior Arielle Zupmore, a co-author of the resolution, told the school's newspaper the Michigan Daily in an interview after the meeting that while Coleman and Savabieasfahani's consistent attendance at assembly meetings prompted the resolution, the resolution was drawn up to have a broader purpose.
"When speakers like that come and say really negative things, it's great that they come once and say that, but every week I'm sitting in my seat, cringing," Zupmore said. "I had to walk out one week, and I don't want have to walk out every week. I'm supposed to be listening to the concerns of our students."
A vote on the resolution is expected to take place, with a Tuesday vote a strong possibility at the Michigan Union at 7:30 p.m.