Letter to the Editor: Student government should listen to students on divest issue

By Elan Karoll

The Illinois Student Government faces a clear choice. They can either listen to the voices of over 3,600 students who said no to the University’s divest referendum last spring and remove the question from this year’s ballot, saving our campus from more hate and intolerance, or they can ignore the students who elected them.

A Daily Illini article from February 15 stated: “UIUC Divest has increased discussion between Israelis and Palestinians on campus.” This is completely false. UIUC Divest has a policy of “anti-normalization,” which forbids their supporters from conversing with students who oppose their own views.

Conversely, opponents of UIUC Divest actively pursue meaningful dialogue and have asked the student government to bring to campus a group of Palestinians and Israelis working together toward coexistence. The UIUC Divest campaign has led to increased animosity, intolerance and even acts of hate against Jewish students — not discussion or understanding.

As a member of the Jewish community on campus, I have witnessed this first hand. During last year’s campaign, a leader of UIUC Divest told a fellow Jewish student to “go back to Europe.” Another UIUC Divest leader proudly posted Hitler quotes on their Facebook page. I was personally stalked and went to the police, fearing for my personal safety. And, while elections were being held, a swastika was painted on our Undergraduate Library.

Just this week at the Illinois Student Government meeting, UIUC Divest called a student in the LGBTQ+ community a “Christian Zionist pinkwasher” for having the audacity to hold a differing opinion.

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This is not discussion. This is intimidation. The Illinois Student Government can change the ending of this story.

I urge all of our student representatives to listen to their constituents. Vote for ISG.01.91 to remove UIUC Divest from the ballot so we can restart conversation and heal wounds from this campaign of hate.

Elan is a junior in LAS. 

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