A College Council (CC) resolution to retract Undergraduate Student Government (USG)’s statement on Palestine has failed. The vote, held by email over the course of last week, closed on Friday at midnight. Per a recently instituted CC policy, the vote count will not be made public.
The May 21 statement, released by incoming members of USG and cosigned by the activist group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), generated opposition from several Jewish groups on campus, including UChicago Hillel. An open letter and petition calling for the statement’s retraction and an apology to the Jewish community circulated. The USG statement also found staunch supporters; UChicago’s IfNotNow chapter released a statement in support of USG’s stance, and another petition in support of the USG statement gathered nearly 600 signatures.
President Robert Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee also weighed in, writing in an email to the University community on Tuesday that “the University of Chicago does not have an institutional position on international conflicts.” The email continues, “While Student Government representatives are elected by undergraduates, neither Student Government nor any other student group speaks for the University or for all students on any issue.”
In response to the USG statement, College Council representative Julia Brestovitskiy introduced Friday night’s resolution to CC. The resolution is cosigned by a number of Jewish organizations and student leaders on campus. The original text of the resolution called for both the retraction of the statement and an apology to the campus Jewish community. On Wednesday, however, Brestovitskiy and her co-signatories altered the resolution to remove the demand for an apology and focus on amending USG policy to prevent the release of future statements without majority support by CC.
In a comment to The Maroon, USG representative Allen Abbott noted that the Student Government and CC websites received more than 100 comments on the resolution and that individual members of USG also received several hundred additional emails and direct messages on the matter.