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March 26, 2021 8:55 am

University of Iowa Student Government Rejects Motion to Form ‘Jewish Senator’

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Schaeffer Hall, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Photo: Flickr. – The Undergraduate Student Government at the University of Iowa recently voted against legislation that called for the creation of a Jewish constituency senator to help tackle antisemitism on campus.

After almost three hours of debate, 24 members of the government voted “yes” and 15 “no” with one abstention, reported the student-run publication The Daily Iowan on Wednesday. Legislation requires 27 votes to pass.

At present, seven constituency senators represent the school’s diversity. Those who voted against the motion claimed that due to the diverse student body, not all marginalized groups can be represented by a senator.

Jewish senior Kendall Michaels testified at the meeting and shared her experiences with antisemitism on campus.

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“I grew up where everyone was Jewish, people knew what a Jew was, and I came here and I had people asking me if I had horns and other crazy questions because they had never met a Jew before,” she said.  “At the end of my freshman year, I came across somebody that I knew who was a year older than me that posted a Snapchat story where he had drawn in a swastika and the caption was ‘I hate all Jews.’ ”

Michaels said she reported the incident, but that no action was taken. She added that other Jewish students told her they also encountered antisemitism at the university.

Veteran constituency senator Paul Richards co-sponsored the bill and said that the legislation is necessary to effectively fight all discrimination on campus. He told The Daily Iowan: “It is my very firm belief that if we allow discrimination of one identity group to persist we are allowing discrimination of all identities to persist.”

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