Some feel student resolution puts Jewish students in difficult position

Local News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A resolution passed by University of Illinois Student Government is causing division, but the writers say that wasn’t their intention. Jewish student groups on campus say it puts them in a tough spot. The resolution is basically a list of groups – locally, nationally and internationally – that the university invests in which the authors believe they should stop supporting. However, some feel there are contradictions.

“Also, as university companies, our tuition dollars, go to these companies that invest in these human rights violations,” explained resolution author Buthaina Hattab. “Reinvesting the millions of dollars that go to the university police, reinvesting it into counseling service, racial and social justice that can happen on campus and on the campus community.”

The resolution names companies involved in providing weapons for the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, but Jewish student groups say the resolution puts Jewish students in a tough spot because it lumps a lot of separate issues together.

“It conflates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with racial equality in the United States,” explained Hillel Executive Director Erez Cohen. “Our Jewish students on campus have a deep connection to the state of Israel. They have family living there. This is basically their ancestral homeland. To be in a situation where they need to choose between that connection and the connection they have with black students on campus is an impossible one to be in.”

University leaders also don’t support the resolution. They provided the following statement ahead of the decision Wednesday night.

Illinois Student Government (ISG) is an independent organization that can pass non-binding resolutions on any topic it chooses. It is unfortunate that a resolution before the group tonight was designed to force students who oppose efforts to divest from Israel to also vote against support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

We are committed to dialogue and to supporting students as they navigate challenging conversations, and we will continue to plan programming designed to build understanding of different perspectives on complex and divisive issues.

This resolution includes several points on which we can agree, but a foundational value of this institution is inclusion, and this resolution includes language that we cannot and will not support. As one of the country’s top public universities, we find ourselves in the difficult position of defending speech and expression, so we can talk together about difficult circumstances and have uncomfortable conversations. We must always balance that with our need to create a community where it is safe to live, learn and work.

Our Student Affairs office and Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are engaged in efforts to build a community that advances inclusive excellence and that values diversity.

We invite ISG, its members and all students to partner with us in this most critical initiative.

UI Chancellor Robert J. Jones

University of Illinois Police said they support the above statement, and only had the following to add:

We certainly support the chancellor’s and the vice chancellors’ response. But for now, we want to give our students the opportunity to be heard and the opportunity to voice their opinions without interjection from UIPD.

University of Illinois Police Department

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