U of Wisconsin student leader apologizes for vote on anti-Israel resolution

A student committee had ordered the association’s chair to apologize at the first student government meeting

Photo of the Capitol viewed from University of Wisconsin campus, Madison, Wisconsin, taken September 28, 2010. (photo credit: CCBY/Richard Hurd, Flickr)
Photo of the Capitol viewed from University of Wisconsin campus, Madison, Wisconsin, taken September 28, 2010. (photo credit: CCBY/Richard Hurd, Flickr)

The head of the student government at the University of Wisconsin-Madison apologized for holding a meeting on Passover that featured a vote on an anti-Israel resolution.

In April, the Associated Students of Madison passed the resolution calling for divestment from companies operating in many countries that included an amendment specifically targeting Israel. Several Jewish student government representatives were absent from the meeting.

The student summary judgment committee had ordered the association’s chair, Katrina Morrison, to apologize at the first student government meeting after a former student government representative, Ariela Rivlin, filed a complaint over the Passover vote.

On Tuesday, Morrison said the student government should operate in an atmosphere of respect for all opinions and acknowledged Passover’s importance.

“Along with all other religious holidays, student council should always make concerted efforts to accommodate students who may want to participate in the meeting, but are unable to do so due to holiday observances,” Morrison said, according to the student newspaper, The Badger Herald.

“I’m sincerely sorry for the hurt I’ve caused to the Jewish community,” she said. “Until the end of my term, I will work every day to regain the trust of Jewish students of this university.”

Also Tuesday, the student government passed a resolution against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred in a unanimous vote. It states that student association condemns harassment, discrimination and intimidation of any kind toward all students of different identities and further apologizes for the Passover meeting.

The anti-Israel resolution passed on April 12, the second day of Passover, called on the university and its foundation to divest from companies involved in private prisons, arms manufacture, fossil fuels and border walls, and banks that “oppress marginalized communities.”

It also blamed Israel for training U.S. police in tactics it said harm African-Americans. Despite knowing that several Jewish representatives were unable to attend the meeting due to the Jewish holidays, Morrison suspended the student government rules to discuss and push through a vote.

The vote came a month after a divestment resolution specifically targeting Israel failed to pass the student government and two weeks after the student government passed a proposal to create a new financial transparency and ethics subcommittee.

In a statement issued after the vote, the university administration said the resolution was nonbinding and would not result in a change in university policies or its approach to investing.

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