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Group petitions for Palestinian resolution in SG senate

Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 13:02

Ahmad Saadaldin, a junior majoring in mass communications and president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), wants USF to boycott corporations, such as Sabra Hummus and Hewlett-Packard, which he said supports the “oppression, occupation and apartheid of Palestinian people.” 

The corporations, owned by parent companies that invest in groups that support Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are against the values of USF, he said. 

Saadaldin and SJP approached Student Government (SG) Senate President Jeff Gao last week and asked the Senate to draft a resolution to express support for boycotting and divesting from corporations that support this cause. 

Gao said the group could speak during an open forum portion of the meeting, but that a bill would not be drafted. 

“If you are not on the agenda, and you are in the audience, you have the open forum as a chance to speak,” Gao said. “During open forum you have a maximum of two minutes to speak. Any other time, senators are the only ones allowed to speak during senate. If they have time available, they can give their time to speak to someone in the audience. ... I won’t let the senate chambers be used to make a political statement.”

But the group, who has yet to speak at an open forum at a Senate meeting, felt the idea for a bill was being shot down before it had a chance.

“Goff is pretty biased toward the whole thing,” Saadaldin said. “He’s not representing the student body. He’s supporting himself.”

 

Saadaldin said Gao asked SJP to bring a petition with 1,540 signatures if they wanted to see a bill drafted — something the group felt was unfair. 

“The overall goal is to bring to light different injustices, particularly in the Middle East,” Malak Fakhoury, a freshman majoring in psychology, said. “We find support amongst other groups that have battled similar conflicts of oppression.”

Student body president Brian Goff said if signatures were obtained and “overwhelming student support” was displayed, the issue would be put on the ballot for students to vote on “without any question.” 

The group will have their petition, which has received about 700 signatures at the time of print, outside the Marshall Student Center at noon. 

But Goff said he’s not sure that the idea will gain much traction.

“We’ve got enough problems in Florida politics to worry about, like the funding for higher education and the ‘Aim Higher’ initiative,’” he said. “If we spread our focus to something abroad like that, it dilutes the voice of Student Government, and it dilutes the voice of the student body. I don’t even know if the university would allow something like that to happen even if students did show the support.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN EDITED FROM ITS ORIGINAL VERSION. 

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