State Representative David E. Rutledge served as a guest speaker at the Eastern Michigan University Student Government senate meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
The Student Government senators had unanimously voted on Sept. 20 to recommend that Gov. Rick Snyder appoint Rep. Rutledge to the Office of EMU Regents.
"Senators and guests, let me just tell you how special it is to be here. I want to say thank you," said Rep. Rutledge. "My parents taught me that when someone either thinks about you or does anything special for you, you have an obligation to say thank you to them, and so I want to make sure that I do that to you, because I think that it's so special."
After thanking senators and guests in the audience Rep. Rutledge turned his attention to the racial graffiti incidents. He said, "The graffiti on the walls of a building was put there by somebody that has no sensitivity to diversity and cultures and understanding about how we're all better together than we are apart."
Rep. Rutledge conveyed that students hold the power to influence what happens on campus and the faculty and administration at EMU are in place to serve its student body.
"Having said that, with power comes a tremendous obligation," said Rep. Rutledge. "That means you have an obligation to leave this place better than you found it."
Project Safe Campus
Officer Candace Dorsey spoke next and introduced Willie Burton, the manager of a campus initiative called Project Safe Campus.
Project Safe Campus is a student-led program by the Crime Stoppers of Michigan that allows students to speak anonymously and send tips about possible criminal or dangerous activity occurring on campus.
When a phone call is made the number is scrambled and transferred to Canada so that there is no way to trace the call. Operators then send information within minutes to the Crime Stoppers of Michigan, who then relay it to the EMU Police Department.
Burton said, "We give students something that they haven't had before: the ability to speak up about something and no one knows who they are."
Callers may receive between a $100 and $2500 cash reward for their tips on a variety of school-related issues including drugs, violence, arson and vandalism. Project Safe Campus acts as a bridge between students and the campus police.
"You have to do something to make your campus different than it is," said Burton. "You can't leave it the same, you have to be new, you have to be innovative and you have to be creative. You have to fill in the gaps of things that are missing."
Since its start in Detroit schools Burton cited a 22 percent drop in crime in the district.
"The goal of this program isn't really to arrest people," said Burton, "it's just to get to situations prior to them actually taking place."
When asked what happens when sexual assault is reported, Officer Dorsey explained that someone can make a report but they don't have to talk to the police. The police are required by law to follow up on a report pertaining to sexual assault, but an official police report doesn't have to be filed.
"If I checked on a female for example, we get a report on sexual assault, I would explain to her, 'look, I'm not making a report if you don't want to report it, you don't even have to give me your name,'" said Dorsey. "'I just need to know that you're okay and that we've provided the correct resources for you.'"
There is currently no cost to operate the initiative at EMU as it's still in the testing stage. "We kind of just want to test it and see how it goes," said Burton. "The funding right now comes from us and we're not going to charge EMU because I just want to do it."
Students can submit tips by either calling 1-800-SPEAK-UP, texting CSM and the tip to 274637 or via email at www.1800speakup.org.
Black Student Union town hall meeting
Sen. Jones-Darling expressed concern that not enough members of Student Government attended the town hall meeting on Monday, Oct. 3, which discussed the racist graffiti incidents on campus.
Only a few senators attended the meeting and Sen. Jones-Darling felt that it reflected poorly on Student Government in a "time that their student body needs them." Other senators echoed Sen. Jones-Darling's sentiments.
"While it wasn't as well attended as it should've been, those who were in attendance will help us spearhead the much needed change in this university," said Sen. Jaren Johnson. "And of course there will be other opportunities that will present themselves for us to have another discussion."
Sen. Jones-Darling also believed that the town hall meeting should have been mandatory for a majority of students at EMU.
"While we had plenty of students that were there that wanted to hear the conversation, there were not enough students who needed to hear the conversation," said Sen. Jones-Darling. "The person who put the hate speech graffiti at King hall, that type of person was not in that room."
RHA Delegation Application
In a unanimous vote the Residence Housing Association was granted a delegate seat. Justin Snyder, director of business and finance, encouraged a "yes" vote, stating that RHA represents residents on campus more than any other organization, which is a significant portion of the student population.
All of the provisional senators at the meeting were appointed to hold seats in the Student Government senate. A majority of provisional senators were elected unanimously, which is a rare occurrence according to Senate President Joshua Starr. The following provisional senators were appointed:
- Provisional Sen. MiaJune Wurster in a vote of 12-0-0
- Provisional Sen. Rachel Caloia in a vote of 12-0-0
- Provisional Sen. Kevonte White in a vote of 12-0-0
- Provisional Sen. Morgan Randall in a vote of 12-0-0
- Provisional Sen. Ethan Smith in a vote of 11-0-0
- Provisional Sen. Craig Kisell in a vote of 11-1-0