Senate passes bill on academic freedom after campus outcry over Palestine DeCal

Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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At their fourth meeting of the semester Wednesday night, the ASUC Senate passed all four bills put to vote after heavy deliberations on a bill concerning a controversial DeCal that was suspended and later unsuspended in the past week.

While all of the bills were passed, the senate debated a proposed amendment to  bill SR-12, which addressed the previous suspension of a DeCal on Palestine. Additionally the ASUC approved bills calling for improved student safety when abroad, standing in solidarity with all students of color and opposing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The amendment to the bill proposed by Student Action Senator Miranda Hernandez would have added a clause that stated that the bill’s support for the reinstatement of the Palestine DeCal was in no way “anti-Semitic,” Hernandez said at the meeting.

“I wanted to add a whereas clause in the bill that explicitly stated that the DeCal was not meant for political mobilization, and just for academic freedom,” Hernandez said. “There were some communities on campus that were uncomfortable with the syllabus of the DeCal, so I wanted to recognize their concerns but also further protect academic freedom.”

CalSERVE Senator Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris disagreed with the proposed amendment, stating that it “will push it more to external conflict rather than focus on the issues of academic freedom.”

New language was proposed for the amendment to avoid specific political statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it was ultimately voted down by the senate.

“I agree in essence of the amendment but I was not elected to vote just because something sounds better and was elected to do what my communities want me to,” AbdulQadir said.

ASUC senators also approved a resolution expressing opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is designed to carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois.

CalSERVE Senator Rigel Robinson, the primary sponsor of the bill, stated that the pipeline was “a dangerous development that has risked compromising the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux,” adding that it is crucial for the higher education community to stand in solidarity to prevent the construction near Lake Oahe from resuming.

At the meeting External Affairs Vice President André Luu submitted another bill in support of the inclusion of an additional student representative on the advisory committee to the UC President that will engage in future searches for the new chancellor. Presently, the committee has two student members — ASUC President Will Morrow and Graduate Assembly President Iman Sylvain.

“The purpose of the bill is to increase pressure on the UC Board of Regents so they include this additional student, either a student regent or student regent designate, on the decision making process,” Luu said.

If the bill passes through committee meetings Monday, the senate will vote on it at their Sept. 28 meeting.

Contact Vera Esail and Parth Vohra at [email protected].

Clarification(s):
A headline accompanying a previous version of this article may have implied that the entire ASUC met Sept. 21. In fact, it was a meeting of just the ASUC Senate.
The photo attached to a previous version of this article depicted an ASUC Executive Cabinet meeting, not an ASUC Senate meeting.