In one of its last chances to pass legislation, the 2001-2002 Associated Students Legislative Council debated, and ultimately withdrew, a controversial position paper in support of Israel that also called for an end to anti-Semitism within the University.
Approximately 30 students spoke at the meeting on Wednesday regarding Support Israel Now, a position paper that also urged UC Berkeley to eliminate a class called “The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance,” an English class studying Palestinian resistance, from the Fall 2002 schedule of classes. Students spoke in public comment for over an hour about the bill, arguing mainly over the class at Berkeley.
Students from on-campus organization called Student Action Forum on the Middle East (SAFME) opposed eliminating the Berkeley class because it is a literature class and without it, Palestinian voices would be suppressed. Muslim Student Association member Abeer Khan said the title and language of the bill also sent strong messages of hate.
Individuals not affiliated with SAFME also spoke out against the paper and said it prohibited intellectual freedoms.
“The class is to teach Palestinian resistance and other sides not mentioned in the media,” Khan said. “We are educated people and mature people, and we shouldn’t censor something just because we are afraid of it.”
Students who supported the resolution argued that the class is one-sided and is being offered at an inappropriate time. Groups such as Alpha Epsilon Pi, Hillel and the American Students for Israel supported the paper.
A major complaint against the class was a clause – recently retracted from the course description – that encouraged conservatives not to enroll.
“Just because someone is conservative, doesn’t mean they preach hate,” said Jonathan Kalinski, an off-campus rep and author of the resolution.
Kalinski argued that anti-Semitism exists at UCSB and displayed photographs of vandalism that occurred in the Manzanita Village project on April 5. “Nuke Israel,” “Auschwitz Rules,” “Burn the Torah,” “Anti Zion” and “God Hates Jews” were spray-painted on the walls.
“The problem with this class [is that] it’s just coming up right now, at the wrong time,” he said.
After the public comment session, Kalinski withdrew his resolution and plans to re-write it.
“A better resolution can be written,” Kalinski said. “[It] will be dealing with the same issues, just with different wording so that it will appeal to both sides.”
The University of California Students Association (UCSA) decided in October that it would not take a stance on the Israel-Palestine issue.
In other business, the council passed a position paper asking the county to write an ordinance prohibiting the use of gas-powered blowers in Isla Vista with a 16-3-4 vote. A similar ordinance already exists in Santa Barbara.
“Not that I’ve studied it, but aside from sleep habits, it creates environmental problems, blowing leaves and trash from one property to the next,” said Off-Campus Rep Brian McGuire, the author of the resolution.
A second position paper was passed unanimously that will support the adoption of a minimum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard on all future building designs and construction on the UCSB campus.
LEED developed a green rating system to encourage efficient design technologies to decrease the environmental impacts of construction, operation and maintenance of a building. The construction of the new Bren Hall has earned a LEED platinum medal, the highest level of certification. The resolution only requires the second level of certification in order to pass.
Next Wednesday marks the transition of the newly elected 2002-2003 Leg Council into their new offices.