The Santa Clara
February 28, 2019
Two years ago, almost 100 students filled the Williman Room during an Associated Student Government (ASG) meeting to protest against the organization Turning Point USA (TPUSA). ASG was debating whether to give the group a Registered Student Organization (RSO) status or not. I encountered a similar situation during ASG’s Week 7 meeting on Feb. 21. Students from an RSO called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were protesting against Students Supporting Israel (SSI), an RSO that had been approved the week before. During that meeting, SJP had been given an opportunity to make an appeal to ASG’s decision of approving SSI.
In their appeal, SJP made a case dismissing any support of Israel, calling Israel a human rights abuser and an evil state. One male student described SSI selling roses on Valentine’s Day and donating the proceeds to an Israel-supporting non-profit called Save a Child’s Heart as “horrific,” further mentioning that Israel is a nation which “puts children in cages.”
I understand that the history and the current politics regarding Israel-Palestine are complex and I am no expert on that.
According to the students from SJP, having SSI on campus is against “our morals,” “our Jesuit values” and would not help “promote dialogue.” The students also claimed that they were “being oppressed” and yet there they were demanding that ASG oppress another group. These claims were similar to the ones made by students two years ago about TPUSA.
How can allowing for more ideas and freedom of expression in a civil manner be against “our morals” and “our Jesuit values?” How does SJP plan to “promote dialogue” while at the same time try to suppress a group they disagree with? If what SJP says about Israel is true, wouldn’t it better to let Santa Clara students judge that in a public space where they are able to hear what both the clubs have to say instead of purging one group and letting the other side prevail? SSI claims to “support Israel’s right to exist and wants to participate in and establish a dialogue on the conflict,” so why is the other side not willing to?
Free speech on college campuses has been under attack in the recent decade. By restricting free speech, we restrict the flow of different ideas and our ability to think critically as we start living in an echo chamber. A university should be a place of learning where we are exposed to different ideas and arguments, and in the end, are left to make our decisions. A college campus without free speech becomes a place of indoctrination and the students are exposed to only one set of ideologies.
We should be thankful that ASG did what was right by approving SSI as an RSO. Going forward, SJP can call for a referendum which is the avenue by which any student may propose to undo an official act by ASG. For the referendum to be initiated, at least 10 percent of the student body must sign a petition. In order for a referendum to pass, at least 20 percent of the student body must vote in the referendum election using our campus’ online polling platform and a supermajority (2/3 +1) of that minimum quorum must vote yes. It is important to note that the 20 percent quorum is not defined in the bylaws but is based on prior precedent from the last time there was a referendum in 2012.
I urge all of my fellow Broncos to do what they think is right for themselves and for our learning environment.