Recognizing Voices On Campus

If you were one who always looked up to our cool siblings up at UC Berkeley, you should take note of the actions of our student government in recent weeks. In fact, our student government went one step further than theirs did in 2010.

The ASUCI Legislative Council unanimously passed a resolution two weeks ago, urging the UCI administration to divest from companies that they say profit from anti-Palestinian activities and support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Administrators were quick to distance themselves from Resolution 48-15 after it received approval from the ASUCI Executive Board, citing the policies of the University of California and the Board of Regents that only require divestment when the federal government deems it necessary. For students, rather than finding a unified voice in support, the passing of the resolution has sparked heated debate between various groups and individuals.

The resolution has been labeled as a banner for combating human rights violations. It is certainly good to fight for and recognize the “inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” but the rhetoric surrounding the legislation has included an aura of “If you are not with me, then you are against me.”

And none of us, we can likely determine, are Sith Lords.

This is not the sort of discourse that fosters inclusion in the campus community. There are many issues that the vast majority of students can rally for or against, but not all are as clear-cut. In this case, there is a stark contrast in the many voices of those for or against the legislation. The resolution, unintentionally or intentionally, has magnified the divisions apparent in the campus community between various student groups regarding this particular issue.

The focus of the campus community, then, if we are to maintain and better this community and “human family,” is to recognize the various voices. In regards to this resolution, its opponents claim the Legislative Council did not follow proper procedures in making it available to the public online  three days before it is discussed and voted on in the Council.

The Council does claim to have followed proper procedure, but there was a definite lack of awareness among many of the student body regarding this resolution. The majority of public comments on Nov. 13, the day the resolution was presented to the Council, included individuals who overwhelmingly expressed their support for the legislation. The nays began to balance out the supporting comments in the subsequent Thursday and Tuesday meetings on Nov. 15 and 20.

It is unfortunate that these few instances of discourse and discussion have been characterized with thinly-veiled hostility and scathing rhetoric. Both sides, whether in support of upholding or overturning the resolution, show no signs of willingness to discuss and listen to their facts and beliefs together.

It is ultimately unfortunate that a university with such a diverse student body finds itself with student groups isolating themselves from one another, rather than creating open dialogue and exchange.

It is, of course, no easy or quick feat to include all students in policy-making processes, especially when students can either be overly involved or completely apathetic. It is a shared responsibility between the elected officials and the students they represent.

As a unified declaration on a particular issue by the student community, the resolution should point fingers at what it identifies as wrong. If the fingers start pointing at each other, however, it is clear there are more immediate and local issues at hand.

Please send all comments to opinion@newuniversity.org. Include your name, year, and major.