The ASUCR Senate convened on Wednesday to discuss a range of topics that included the passage of a resolution to the controversial UC Statement of Principles Against Intolerance that was recently up for discussion at a public forum at UCLA on Monday October 26, 2015.
Highlanders and members of other schools and organizations across the UC system attended the UCLA event and were invited by a working group composed of students, faculty, chancellors and UC regents to discuss the statement of intolerance that some felt was either too weak in its stance on anti-Semitism or a hindrance to free speech on campuses. The fear of free speech infringement originates from the proposed adoption of the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism for the statement of intolerance which is perceived as stifling criticism of Israel and its current activities and policies regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The state’s definition is characterized by the 3-D Test of anti-Semitism which stands for the demonization of Israel, subjecting Israel to double standards and the delegitimiziation of the Israeli state. U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband who also serves on the board of UC regents, Richard C. Blum, had previously threatened punitive measures against universities and students if the regents did not adopt the state’s definition at a September meeting.
Ultimately the UC regents did not adopt the state’s definition and opened the revision of the statement to the public with the event held at UCLA.
“There are groups … that have dealt with intolerance systematically, habitually and constantly and these groups were not provided for in this statement, nor were they even considered in the original drafting of it,” said President Pro-tempore Corey Willis who also attended the conference.
The second ASUCR resolution authored by Willis and sponsored by Casey Thielhart, was finalized during the ASUCR meeting on Wednesday and reads as such:
“Whereas, free speech is one of the core values of any free society. Whereas, the university should engender and not restrict the free exchange of ideas. Whereas, earlier this year the UC was encouraged by President Napolitano, among others, to adopt the state department’s definition of anti-Semitism. Whereas, the state department’s definition of anti-Semitism is too restrictive, especially in a university setting.
“Whereas, criticism of the state of Israel and its policies is not conflated with anti-Semitism. Whereas, anti-Zionism is not equated to anti-Semitism. Whereas, isolated incidents of anti-Semitic behavior, while deplorable, do not reflect the majority. Whereas, the current text of the statement of principles against intolerance is so broad as to allow for any critical comment to be construed as intolerance.”
“Whereas, other groups that have habitually and systematically been made victim to intolerance were not given the same special attention. Whereas, repeated incidents of racism and sexism by the Greek system have elicited no response from the Regents. Whereas, tolerance should be spread to all groups not just those with the strongest political lobby or the most influence. Whereas, on Monday during a public forum by the working group on the UC statement of principles against intolerance, comments were solicited and both members of the ASUCR and the UCR community were present.”
“Let it be resolved that ASUCR condemn any further iteration of the UC statement of intolerance including any references explicit or implicit that prevent criticism of Israel. Let it be resolved that ASUCR reaffirms its commitments to combating intolerance in all forms against all groups. Let it finally be resolved that ASUCR encourages the Regents to adopt a statement of principles against intolerance that allows for the exchange of ideas while still preventing against inflammatory or bigoted behavior.”
The resolution provoked no debate and was passed with a vote of 12-0-1.
· R’Pantry’s November 3 soft rollout will take place at 10 a.m. at the Bear’s Den and will be giving out food, asking students for feedback on what kinds of foods they’d like to see in the future and any suggestions for improvement.
· Wade Harris, current president of the Interfraternity Council and fourth-year economics and business administration major, was approved by a vote of 11-1-1 as Vote Director.
· Nick S., fourth-year economics and business administration major, was approved by a vote of 12-0-0 as Vice Chair of Outreach Committee.
· ASUCR president Ashley Harano’s video blogs were moved from premiering Wednesdays to Tuesdays to allow more time for student viewing.
· The Office of the Vice President of Campus Internal Affairs is offering an internship/fellowship program for 16 students to be more involved in ASUCR and develop leadership skills. The program’s estimated launch is the end of the week.