Natalie Wang, USG Executive Vice President for External Affairs
WHEREAS the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) released a statement in support of Palestinian liberation in collaboration with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on May 21, 2021.
WHEREAS the process through which the statement was released was kept confidential to protect members of the incoming USG and members of SJP from doxxing.
WHEREAS the aforementioned process caused a lot of confusion and hurt for members of the Student Government, the Undergraduate Student Government, and of many Jewish communities.
WHEREAS the subsequent push for the retraction of the statement caused hurt for members of the Palestinian community through making support seem retractable and conditional.
WHEREAS the processes through which this statement was released and then called for retraction made several constituents feel unsupported and unheard.
WHEREAS this issue is systemic: in April 2021, the College Council released a statement on the campus lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak, calling, in part, for punitive measures against students who were found to have violated the UChicago Health Pact. In the following days, however, the College Council ultimately decided not to pursue a policy of punitive measures.
WHEREAS the Undergraduate Student Government seeks to codify and reform statement release practices to ensure greater transparency, collaboration, and support within USG.
BE IT RESOLVED external organizations seeking the institutional support of USG shall submit a formal written memorandum. The memorandum shall outline in full the request for collaboration and reasons for support, and shall be distributed to the Cabinet, Committee Chairs, and the College Council prior to a formal meeting on the matter. Identifying details of the requester may be redacted at the requester’s request, regardless if it’s from an organization or individual. A member of the Cabinet shall respond to each request within 48 hours of receipt.
BE IT RESOLVED after an initial drafting process for a statement, internally or externally derived, that includes all relevant parties, the statement shall be sent to the relevant administrators in the Center for Leadership & Involvement (CLI). CLI advisors should provide feedback within two business days.
BE IT RESOLVED after a final statement draft is produced, the statement shall be brought to the College Council for a vote if the umbrella name of USG is to be used, pursuant to the USG Constitution. Statements merely approved by a Committee, Office, or other body of USG shall bear their own name, not that of USG and the undergraduate Student Association.
BE IT RESOLVED if there is not a unanimous vote in favor of a statement, then there shall be a byline to note that the statement does not speak for every member of USG, but rather the majority of voting members.
BE IT RESOLVED no fewer than 48 hours shall elapse between the dissemination of the final statement draft and the College Council vote on that statement.
BE IT RESOLVED USG members, particularly members of the Cabinet, shall conduct listening tours to hear directly from groups and constituents regarding reforms, means of support, and concerns.
BE IT RESOLVED the Transition Committee shall draft by-laws that incorporate these principles of statement drafting and approval procedures into USG’s governing documents.
BE IT RESOLVED making a more thorough process for future statements to be released shall not prevent statements from being released. Instead, codifying procedure for statement release should clarify and strengthen USG’s institutional positions.