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Student government asks MSU to publicly condemn hate speech, support Palestinian students

November 1, 2023
<p>The ASMSU leadership team during their first meeting of the semester at the International Center on Sept. 7, 2023.</p>

The ASMSU leadership team during their first meeting of the semester at the International Center on Sept. 7, 2023.

Photo by Sonya Barlow | The State News

Associated Students of MSU bill 60-30 “advocates for ASMSU and MSU to address the ongoing Palestinian crisis and support Palestinian students and all impacted students.”

ASMSU "will support Palestinian, Arab, Jewish, and allied people," according to the bill.

The bill calls for MSU to release a statement condemning antisemitism, islamophobia and "overall acts and/or words of hate" in collaboration with affected student groups.

It also states that "the Jewish people are not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government and the Palestinian fight is not defined by Hamas’ actions, rather the Palestinian fight is rooted in fighting against colonization and oppression for all within the region."

The discussion attracted 67 public commenters and lasted over eight hours at ASMSU's most recent meeting. It passed with 14 representatives in favor, two voting no and seven abstaining.

Arab Cultural Society representative Saba Saed introduced the bill. Other student groups who contributed to this bill include the Muslim Students' Association, Students United for Palestine Rights, Yemeni Student Association, Egyptian Student Association, Students Organize for Syria and March for Our Lives MSU.

Bill 60-30 states that “the systemic brutalization and torture that the Palestinian people have endured daily since 1948 is left without representation and acknowledgement of their ongoing oppression, disregarding the innocent lives lost.” 

It also states that ASMSU will advocate "that MSU organizes and facilitates educational and/or informational sessions about the current violence in Palestine and Israel."  

According to the bill, these sessions should provide "trustworthy information to the MSU community about the ongoing Palestinian genocide and creating a space in which the student body can learn and mutually support one another."

Some students advocating against the bill denounced using the word ‘genocide’ to describe Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. Students advocating for the bill argued Palestinians have experienced extreme oppression and violence from Israel for seven decades. Some students said they had seen this violence first-hand, having been born and raised in Gaza before fleeing for safety

“I came to this university with the expectation that my fellow peers and I would be provided a safe and welcoming space to express our backgrounds and identity,” MSA President Abdullah Al-Ejel said at the general assembly. “However, this does not feel to be the case, after MSU didn’t even mention Palestine once in their statement on Oct. 12, completely deciding to ignore the presence of the Palestinian students and their families who have been suffering for decades.” 

Multiple Jewish Student Union, or JSU, members said they believed that Jewish and Israeli students had little opportunity to contribute to bill 60-30 with ASMSU. They also said their group’s efforts to collaborate on this bill were denied.

“I fear that through the passing of this bill … ASMSU will continue to allow for discrimination against certain identities and other minority groups that clearly aren’t thought about by people in this room,” JSU President Maddie Dallas said. “If ASMSU is meant to serve the entire undergraduate student population, then how come something so divisive can be approved and supported when it’s very apparent that one side is being underrepresented?”

It also calls upon MSU to release a statement in collaboration with bill writers about "the consequences of misinformation and misrepresentation — including the separation of Palestine/Palestinians and Hamas — to ensure that the human rights violations of Palestinian people are acknowledged, while acknowledging the innocent lives lost of both Israelis and Palestinians."

ASMSU public relations manager Brandi Stover said ASMSU is currently writing this statement in collaboration with the Arab Cultural Society and MSA

“We want this process and the content within it to be inclusive and equitable, while also advocating for the voices of those who often feel underrepresented at MSU,” Stover said. “We are working in a very collaborative manner and that means this will take more time than your typical statements.”

Editor's note: This story was originally removed from our site because it did not fit our publishing standards, which require using students' full names. We apologize for how long it took us to update this story. Our reporters are students, too, and they are learning.

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