Opinion: Marginalized students- our Student Representatives have failed us

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Student Government recently passed a resolution regarding inclusion. I’d like to point out that I struggled with that first sentence because, well, this resolution does nothing for marginalized students. The resolution, drafted by President Sarah Nassar, totals just over a page and “[calls] upon the University of Michigan-Dearborn to support disabled, multicultural and LGBTQ+ students.”

As a queer student, I am incredibly disappointed, upset, and scared that this resolution passed Student Government’s Inclusion Committee and the Senate. The resolution does nothing for marginalized students. There is no goal. If we were to summarize the resolution, it would essentially say: “Our University is so inclusive! We call on the University to be inclusive!” The resolution points out policies that are currently in place by the university that support inclusivity on campus, however it does not address any real issues on campus. 

Yet, I fear that this is because our student representatives did not actually reach out to the marginalized students that they claim to demand support for. I make such a statement about our representatives because there is a myriad of issues just within the community of queer students. Did you know that there is no safe space for queer students? Or that there is no coordinator of LGBTQIA+ initiatives, and this position is not even posted on the University’s job search portal? The same rings true for the Multicultural Coordinator, which has been vacant for almost a year. If Student Government actually reached out to these communities, they would have known about these issues and addressed them.

But what’s the best part about this whole resolution? The fact that I reached out to Student Government through their Instagram and had my opinion belittled. I expressed my concerns with it and was told that I am more than welcome to write my own and represent myself (Student Government, is that not YOUR job?). They also told me that other students had no problem with it. Granted they did tell me that “maybe one needs to be made specifically for LGBT+ students,” I have little faith in seeing this come to light. 

All Instagram DM photos courtesy of Chandler Gimson.

(the entire Instagram conversation can be found below)

It gives me such relief that our Student Representatives can demand for our University to continue their already “sufficient” inclusion initiatives in 201 words. Their vast knowledge on the topic lead them to such a sparse demand that they failed to include any true Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and is not only a slap in the face to marginalized students, but a complete waste of student voice, tuition dollars, and time. In fact, their knowledge is so vast, that they felt the need to forgo a proper bibliography.

Student Government, here’s what some fellow students had to say on the initiative:

“I appreciate the effort that SG gave towards supporting students with disabilities and students who identify as LGBTQ+ and students of minority racial and religious groups. However, this resolution seems like it was thrown together without any real care just so that they can say that they tried. It basically says “’don’t be a bad human and discriminate [against] others.’ The University already had anti-discrimination policies that say  just as much. It doesn’t address any of the problems these students are actually facing on campus. I would have loved for a Student Government member to have reached out to related student orgs or groups that are already advocating for themselves to see what areas they needed support in. It’s honestly really disappointing, there really could have been an impact made with this resolution if the work would have been put in.” – Bethany McQuiston

 

“If they want to write a resolution on behalf of marginalized students, they first need to speak with those students. Student Government shouldn’t operate on their own assumptions of what students needs are, rather they should be working with students to understand what they are going through and ask what the best way to support them is.” – Brennan McBeth

 

“I see not one word that actually means anything. No actions being taken, no changes proposed” -Weylin Ryan

 

“This resolution doesn’t really say anything. It claims that all students do have access to all programs, but if that were the case, this resolution would not be needed–nor does it offer any concrete suggestions to improve inclusion on campus. It feels more like a mission statement than a resolution.” – Kaylee Ryan

 

“This resolution does not provide students with anything substantial. Our university is founded on diversity and inclusion; calling on the university to honor that, while a good message to send, does nothing to make sure it actually happens. It does not put checks and balances in place or require any accountability from administration, two incredibly important functions of student government.

Asking the university to do what they, supposedly, are already doing, while not asking for proof or putting new systems in place, is essentially useless. It is offensive to students who benefit from DEI programming and services to put out such a milquetoast resolution.” – Lia Fabbri, Former Student Government Director of Inclusion

What are your thoughts on the Student Government initiative? Let us know on social media: @MichiganJournal

Entire Instagram conversation:

All Instagram DM photos courtesy of Chandler Gimson.