Anti-Israel legislation passed last month at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was “voided” on Wednesday by the student judiciary due to discrimination against Jewish students that took place during the voting process, The Badger Herald campus paper reported.
Sanctions were also issued on those involved in Associated Students of Madison’s (ASM) decision to unanimously pass a divestment resolution in late April that included charging Israel with human rights abuses, in a vote that took place less than a month after the BDS issue had been tabled indefinitely and also following a blow-up over an attempt to discuss the matter at an ASM meeting during Passover, when many Jewish students could not be present.
ASM council member Ariela Rivkin said her Jewish peers had been “cleverly manipulated” and shut out of a conversation in which they had a vested interest. She ultimately decided — together with four fellow students — to file an injunction with the student judiciary on the grounds that the ASM process had been unconstitutional.
The judiciary has now decided in Rivkin’s favor, determining “that exclusion of students from meetings due to their religious beliefs, particularly when said students have expressed interest in a committee’s activities, constitutes a violation of the ASM Constitution.”
The judiciary recommended that former ASM Chair Carmen Gosey “attend a training on religious tolerance and understanding, so she may better understand how her actions harmed Jewish members of ASM. It is also recommended that she apologize to the campus Jewish community for her discriminatory acts as Chair.”
The decision also detailed consequences for Representative Katrina Morrison, who had motioned for a rule to be waived so that voting on BDS could take place at an ASM session held on Passover, as she said it would be a “hassle” to schedule a second meeting to decide the issue. Morrison made this call after Rivkin had reached out to Gosey in advance and explicitly asked that BDS not be discussed at a meeting during a major Jewish holiday. After the injunction was filed with the judiciary, Morrison suggested that those behind the complaint were racists because they had specifically named Morrison and Gosey — both African Americans — for their roles in the controversy.
Morrison has now been ordered to write a letter that, in part, recognizes “Passover is important to the Jewish community, and apologizing to all Jewish council members for excluding them from the initial vote.” Morrison must read that apology before the first meeting of the new ASM council at the start of the fall semester, and may face further punishment pending review.
In Commentary on Thursday, Jonathan Marks — a politics professor at Pennsylvania’s Ursinus College — applauded the student judiciary’s decision to call “this strategy by its proper name: religious discrimination.”
“These sanctions may not seem to amount to much, but on college campuses, in which administrations have never honored a call to divest, BDS’s whole game is public relations,” he wrote. “Being called out for religious discrimination is a public relations disaster. Ariela Rivkin and those who stood with her deserve credit for showing that not only administrators but also students can stand for justice against invidious discrimination.”
The University of Wisconsin-Madison appeared on The Algemeiner‘s 2016 list of “worst colleges for Jewish students.”