ZOA’s Strategy is the Wrong One


I used to hate it when my mom would go into my room and clean it for me. Something perturbed me about someone else taking care of my dirty work.
I had this same feeling when I found out last year, and read about in last week’s New University, that the Zionist Organization of America had decided that it would be in the best interest of the organization and the Jewish students at UC Irvine to file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
The ZOA’s insistence upon filing this claim perturbs me most because I feel that if the Jewish students at UCI (a group I am a part of) felt the need to do something to stop the constant anti-Semitism on our campus, we would be capable of doing the research and going through the proper channels.
I appreciate the ZOA’s interest in our campus, and its desire to help the students who feel that their right to be who they are was infringed upon, but I am not sure that the filing of an OCR claim does anything to help the students here.
Rather, it only serves to attack the university, and by association the university community, of which we are all members.
In researching the investigation, I have found that the claim does not release the names of those students who feel that they were in some way harmed by being on the UCI campus.
If the ZOA truly wanted to make the campus better for Jewish students, it might have considered letting the university know who was having a problem so that the proper people could get in contact with the students.
It might then find out more about the problem and try to rectify it while making sure that similar incidents don’t occur in the future.
The university has made many strides in order to accommodate all groups of students, and I think most students appreciate that.
The ZOA is correct, however, that more needs to be done for students: not just Jewish students, but all students.
Jewish and Muslim students who follow the dietary laws of their cultures can’t eat many of the foods served in the dining halls of the housing complexes, yet freshmen students of both religious affiliations must pay for the meal plan that may often go unused.
It is time for the university to look into this, as it is forcibly taking money for a service that it does not adequately provide.
This is just one of multiple transgressions that need to be fixed, but not by an outside organization.
Students should meet with administrators and find a solution that is fair and agreeable, as this is how one should deal with problems inside a community.
The ZOA did get one thing right: Students on the UCI campus are often discriminated against, and speakers on the campus use hate speech as a rhetorical device, which makes many students feel uneasy.
However, I think that as a community, the students of UCI, not an outside organization, need to band together to stop hate speech.
But, if we as a community decide not to bring hate speech to campus, then there won’t be a need for the administration to step in.
As a leader of a student group, I pledge to the UCI community that I will never knowingly bring a speaker to campus whose message is one of hatred, for any group of people.
I call on the other leaders of student groups to do the same, as we are all one community and we should behave accordingly.
It is past time that students take it upon themselves to stamp out hatred against anyone, and make sure that all cultures, ideas and people are welcome at UCI.

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