60 California student leaders slam anti-Israel resolution for ‘lack of transparency’

(JNS.org) A group of 60 elected student officials signed a letter slamming what they called the “lack of transparency” as well as the “marginalization” and “misrepresentation” of students associated with the recent passage of a resolution condemning a measure to combat anti-Semitism on California state campuses.

The University of California Student Association (UCSA) in September had voted to condemn HR35—a unanimously passed State Assembly resolution urging University of California (UC) schools to squelch nascent anti-Semitism and crack down on anti-Israel demonstrations. UCSA accused of Israel of “illegal occupation” and “racism and Apartheid,” and encouraged “all institutions of higher learning” to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

In a letter dated Oct. 19, the 60 student leaders wrote to UCSA’s board of directors that the anti-HR35 resolution “violated the rights to representation of a significant portion of its campus.”

David Bocarsly, Student Body President at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and initiator of the letter, wrote in an email to JNS.org that the letter was students’  “way of saying that we’re going to fight for communities that feel unsafe on this campus, that we are going to ensure that it is publicly known that the UC ‘cleans[ing] their economic portfolio’ of companies that support Israel is not in fact something that ‘most California students share.’”  

“As a representative body of over 220,000 UC students, UCSA should not be taking a stance on a geopolitical issue that marginalizes and misrepresents thousands of students state-wide, including myself,” Bocarsly wrote.

“When 60 elected officials statewide issue a joint letter in dismay of an action taken by this board, it is clear they acted inappropriately,” he added.

Roz Rothstein, CEO of the Israel education group StandWithUs, had previously criticized the UCSA resolution’s “devious, undemocratic tactics.”

“They essentially ambushed Jewish and other pro-Israel students by using secretive tactics, not notifying anyone who might disagree with the proposed resolution,” Rothstein said in a statement.

UCSA responded to the student leaders in a letter of its own, saying: “As representatives of 10 UC campuses, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, we decided that our resolution opposing HR 35 was reflective of the values of our constituents and voted to support the resolution 12-0-2. We understand and respect that there is disagreement on this issue among UC students. Still, we stand by our decision and stand by the resolution.”

Bocarsly believes UCSA’s response shows how the body “fails to recognize how they are making their constituents feel unsafe.”

“It's very unfortunate that they can't separate the Freedom of Speech issue from Divestment,” he wrote.

Posted on October 25, 2012 .