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Decision to Deny ‘Israel Week’ Funding Overturned

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

"Student money should not be going to an event that is explicitly celebratory of a government…that is currently perpetuating genocide."

Author: Sergei Kelley

The Associated Students of Michigan State University’s (ASMSU) Finance Committee overturned the decision to deny funding to the ‘Israel Week’ event on Oct. 25. This did not go without opposing members voicing their opinions.

The Associated Students of Michigan State University is the undergraduate student government where over 50 students from Colleges, and Cultural and Progressive groups make up the legislative branch. ASMSU functions on a budget of over two million dollars. The Student Allocations Board is a money-allocating branch formed of several student representatives.

On Oct. 17, the Student Allocations Board (SAB) denied the Jewish Student Union $15,365.00 for their week-long event “Israel Week”. There were three specific points which the SAB used to justify withholding the requested money. These reasons included: “focusing on Israel specifically was perceived as exclusive” and “members of the board did not feel comfortable funding an event with political implications.”

The Jewish Student Union (JSU) appealed the ruling to the ASMSU Finance Committee at the Oct. 25 meeting. The Morning Watch had access to a recording of the meeting and public documents that were distributed.

In response to the SAB ruling, Vice President of the SAB, Makenzie Bosworth conversely stated, “the role of SAB is not, has never been, and will never be to decide on what content is appropriate.” In addition, she began the Finance Committee discussion on the SAB role in funding requests, “is to look at a budget and say is this financially responsible?”

Her comments were parallel to the opening statement by JSU President Jason Scott. He gave recollection to the SAB hearing where “we did not get any questions based on the budget,” but rather the content, such as the political aims of the Israeli government. Scott hoped to avoid a political hash-over the Israel government and asked ASMSU Finance Committee members to refrain from political commentary. In addition, he ensured “Israel Week” refrained from “promoting any sort of political agenda.”

The meeting ultimately centered on the failure of the SAB to properly fulfill their mandated task, but not after a debate over Israel’s legitimacy, offensiveness, and inclusiveness.

“Student money should not be going to an event that is explicitly celebratory of a government…that is currently perpetuating genocide,” said Lauren Pepper, an ASMSU representative to the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Other representatives made accusations to the exclusivity of both “Israel Week” and Black Power rallies. Isaiah Hawkins, a Music College representative and Janae Turner, the Black Student Alliance representative both denounced this parallel.

After a call to recess, many calls of civility, and lengthy debate, the discussion turned focus on Israel’s importance and whether SAB ruled accordingly. ASMSU Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Eli Pales, brought attention to Israel’s significance as a “safe place for Jews and a place where [their] ideas are safe.”

However, this point was refuted by the ASMSU Liaison for Inclusiveness and Diversity. “I don’t think this specific event would put certain people down,” said Dante Booker.

In conclusion, the Finance Committee ruled 8-3 to overturn the SAB decision.

Proceeding the vote, after feeling he failed to represent Arabs and Muslims across MSU’s campus, Representative Omar Elahdan announced his resignation.

The Morning Watch reached out to the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and received no comment.

Contributor: Sergei Kelley

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