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Students plan protest in light of SG controversies

Conflicts within SG have led to consequences like an empty Senate chair and planned protests. 

Students’ opinions on Student Government (SG) are heating up to the point of a protest planned outside of the Marshall Student Center on Monday at 5 p.m. 

The Facebook page for the event mentions other issues such as club funding, but focuses on  the resolution proposed to the Senate last week regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Hands Off resolution condemns Israel for “human rights violations against the Palestinian people” and President Donald Trump’s announcement from December that would move the U.S.-Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. 

“The SG Senate declares its solidarity with the Palestinian people,” The resolution states. “The SG Senate expresses its staunch condemnation of the president’s decision.”

While there have been students offering support for the resolution, there’s also been students speaking out against it and saying that it isn’t the SG Senate’s place to take a stance on the centuries old conflict.

“It is time we come together in an effort to combat our very own Student Government,” the Facebook event for the protest says. “They have been using their power to promote their Palestinian agenda. This is a student government. Issues should include club funding, not getting involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This must end. The time to be heard is now.”

This isn’t the first time that the Israeli-Palestinian feud has come in up SG. Two years ago in the spring of 2016, a resolution calling for USF to divest from companies that invest in Israel passed the Senate 32-12. 

That resolution looked for the Student Body President Andy Rodriguez’ signature, but he didn’t sign. The Senate’s attempt to override the veto failed because it couldn’t get a 2/3 vote, and the resolution was reintroduced to the Senate as a purely Senate resolution, which passed.

Then SG Supreme Court later ruled the resolution as outside of the Senate’s power. A group of senators still attempted to present it to the Faculty Senate subcommittee, which didn’t want to see it.

This new resolution doesn’t speak on the issue of divestment, focusing instead on condemning actions without pulling university funds into the issue. However, that difference hasn’t stopped some students from being upset. 

“Palestinian justice (has) no place in Student Government,” Leo Stoler, the protest organizer, said on the event Facebook page. “It will only detract from actual issues facing the school. They are CORRUPT, they are PROPAGANDA, and they must be STOPPED.”

Stoler could not be reached to comment by the time of publication at 11 p.m.

While the resolution is fueling some students’ protests, other issues are still prevalent in students’ minds. At last week’s Senate meeting, the senators voted almost unanimously in favor of supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which is currently being debated in the U.S. Congress, and the dismissal of former Sen. Spencer Tate has some students angry at the Senate.

“If you have any particular issues with SG that you’d like to be made vocal, please feel free to bring signs,” Stoler wrote.