Our equity and inclusion policies
A simple overview of our equity and inclusion requirements
We have implemented several changes to requirements organizations must meet to receive CSG funding, in order to create a more inclusive environment for all students on campus to participate in organization activities that their student fees help fund.
If you charge dues of more than $50 per semester (or $100 per year)
You must waive the dues for any member or potential member who states that they are experiencing financial hardship, and include your process for waiving dues in your organization's constitution.
You must not ask for documentation of this financial hardship.
Please note that payment plans or doing work for the organization to make up for paying the dues don't meet this requirement.
If you have a competitive admissions process (i.e. your organization does not allow any interested student to become a member)
You must have oversight on the process. We can provide oversight through our Wolverine Consulting Group, or you can use your own faculty or staff advisor. If you use an advisor, we must approve this person.
You must admit members in both fall and winter terms, unless it would pose a significant hardship to your organization.
You must explain in your Constitution your criteria for evaluating potential new members.
These requirements don’t apply if you request $250.00 or less from us per semester.
In addition, we will allow organizations to select their preferred receipt deadline, rather than having to request an extension from us. This will allow you to submit applications much earlier for an event later in the semester, if you want to plan ahead and know you have funding guaranteed from SOFC. You’ll see an option for this in the funding application.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want a more detailed overview of who, what, when, where, and why of the new equity requirements? Read on.
Why we've implemented these requirements
Central Student Government is committed to ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment for all students at the University of Michigan, and we know that you share these values.
Membership criteria oversight. We are encouraging student organizations to think carefully about their membership practices through these new requirements. It’s important to note that we are not requiring or prohibiting any admissions criteria ourselves, other than some modest additions to the existing prohibitions under the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy. Instead, we are requiring that organizations meet with either us or a trusted advisor to consistently self-reflect and report on admissions practices, so that we can be as inclusive as possible. Unfortunately, some admissions and hiring practices inadvertently introduce unwanted bias into the process. (Check out the article from The New York Times linked below for a discussion of this.) We want to help organizations actively look for, and take steps to eliminate, any of this unwanted bias.
Opinion | Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Further, we want to make sure that organizations are accessible to first year students, transfer students, and non-traditional students by permitting them to apply to be members of organizations in the winter, when they are more settled into campus life.
Financial accessibility. We know that organizations often rely on required member dues to fund their operations. However, some of our fellow students might have difficulty paying these dues because of their financial situation, which might be short-term or long-term. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted these difficulties for all of us. We don’t want these students to be excluded from organizations simply because they might have trouble paying the dues.
Many organizations already have a process in place to assist members, whether that is by helping them find a scholarship, simply waiving the dues, setting up a payment plan, or some other method. We simply want to unify the process and create a single path for students to get assistance for high organization dues.
More information: selective admissions process oversight
Some students on campus who want to participate in your organization might have difficulties paying high dues. We want to make sure that they have as equal an opportunity to participate as possible. Many organizations tell us, since we have asked in our funding applications for years, that they already have a process for waiving dues! If that’s you, you might not need to make changes at all.
How much can we charge? Like before, you are allowed to charge whatever amount you want (unless you are an SSO, in which your sponsoring unit might have a say in this). However, if you don’t want to be required to give waivers, you can’t charge more than $50 per semester, or $100 per year if you have it paid all at once.
Can we just reduce our dues to the maximum allowed amount? You can only do this if you reduce your dues for the entire organization to the maximum allowed amount or below. You cannot simply waive the amount above the maximum for members requesting waivers.
Can we offer payment plans? You can offer payment plans, as many organizations do already, but payment plans aren’t sufficient to meet the dues waiver requirement. This includes things like requiring members to do work for the organization to get the waiver. To meet the requirement, the waiver has to be complete and unconditional.
Can a member pay a reduced amount? Members who are having financial hardship and ask for a dues waiver can, of course, pay part of the organization dues if they want, whether it is just paying what they can afford or taking advantage of a payment plan, but again, reducing dues isn’t sufficient to meet the requirement.
Do we have to advertise the opportunity to request a waiver? You are required to publish your dues waiver process in your organization’s constitution. You aren’t required to specifically notify new or existing members, but we encourage you to do it, so that members know about the options available to them in case they cannot afford the dues. You should definitely explain the process to any member that mentions financial difficulties with paying the dues.
Can we require verification of financial hardship? We strongly recommend you avoid this. Students might be uncomfortable sharing this information, and be dissuaded from asking for a waiver. The best practice is to simply trust your members and take them at their word that they are experiencing financial hardship. You are not permitted to require students to submit any confidential financial documents to get a dues waiver.
If you do want some verification, we created a form, linked here, that you can have members fill out and sign, stating that they are experiencing financial hardship. You don’t have to use this form. We just created it for you in case you want some sort of documentation. This form, or forms like it, are allowed by our rules, since it does not ask for documentation.
Confidentiality. You are required to keep this financial information confidential, including the form we provided, if you use it, and including the fact that someone received a waiver. You can share the information with people who have a legitimate need to know. We recommend that you pick one person in your organization to handle both dues and dues waivers, so that only that person knows this information.
We would be happy to offer assistance with coming up with a dues waiver process that both keeps maximum confidentiality of student information and fits within your organization’s leadership structure. Many in CSG handle confidential information almost every day as part of their jobs, and will gladly share their strategies to keep things protected. Just ask! Email email@example.com to start a conversation about this.
What can we do about reduced revenue as a result of dues waivers? We understand that many organizations rely on dues to keep their organization running, and sometimes due to high expenses, they have to have high dues. We don’t want to force organizations to choose between making important accommodations for members experiencing financial hardship and performing all the activities that they would perform under their current budget.
Wolverine Consulting Group is available and willing to help your organization come up with strategies to adjust operations to take into account these changes in financial flows. We have a number of suggestions that we will tailor specifically to your organization’s structure and activities. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation about this.
Please send us any questions you have.
We know that for some organizations, these are big changes. We want to help you make it as smooth a transition as possible. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help.
If you have specific policy questions, email email@example.com. If you want help changing your policies or how you run your organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org.