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USAC votes down resolution on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

By Amanda Schallert

Oct. 23, 2013 4:09 a.m.

The undergraduate student government voted down a resolution in support of a peaceful campus approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and investments in specific companies at its weekly meeting.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council voted 5-7-0 against the resolution, during a more than seven-hour-long council meeting that ended around 3 a.m. Internal Vice President Avi Oved, General Representative Sunny Singh, Academic Affairs Commissioner Darren Ramalho, Facilities Commissioner Armen Hadjimanoukian and Financial Supports Commissioner Lauren Rogers voted for the resolution.

More than 100 students attended the meeting to protest or show their support of the resolution in a two-hour public comment period. Council deliberated on the resolution for more than three hours and went through the resolution line by line, making several amendments.

The amendments eliminated all clauses that addressed whether or not USAC should support financial investments or divestments and altered some language that councilmembers said would polarize Israeli or Palestinian students.

The issue of financial investments or divestments was a main point of contention during the meeting. Many students who opposed the resolution said including the issue of investments and divestments was divisive and hurtful to some Palestinian students on campus who support divestments, boycotts and sanctions.

Other students said they felt that the resolution promoted a healthy dialogue on campus about the issue.

Several hours into the council’s conversation about the resolution, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Jessica Trumble said she was still uncomfortable with how the resolution was created, even though the resolution had undergone amendments. Trumble said Oved should have spoken with students before writing the resolution.

Student Wellness Commissioner Savannah Badalich and External Vice President Maryssa Hall echoed Trumble’s sentiment and said they did not support the resolution because Oved did not reach out to students from both sides of the conflict before bringing the resolution to council.

“It’s not fair to say that we have a dialogue because students have been limited to a two-minute public dialogue (during public comments),” Hall said. “I don’t support this resolution because of the fact that these communities weren’t brought in and because of the fact that I’m still wary about a lot of the language in it.”

Oved said he listened to all of the students in the room and that the resolution was meant to facilitate communication between the different sides of the conflict.

Some councilmembers said they were open to a new resolution coming back to the table sometime in the future if students were involved in creating it.

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Amanda Schallert
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