Students sit-in for Palestine at Student Government meeting

The gallery of the Student Government meeting room was packed with students Wednesday night. Around 40 students stood amongst the senators holding signs and the Palestinian flag to advocate for a resolution to protect pro-Palestinian voices that was initially presented a week ago.

Sophomore and member of the Kessel Peace Institute’s Student Advisory Council Cole Koats presented the resolution last week. Koats said “over 500 students signed a petition” and were “eagerly awaiting” the decision of the Student Government. 

A part of the three-page resolution reads, “The student government exercises its representative authority to issue a statement affirming its dedication to upholding free speech and protecting pro-Palestinian demonstration, activism, and academic research concerning Palestine with respect to students and faculty.”

Koats also said at other universities, such as the University of Minnesota, students have faced “academic discipline and all sorts of punishments for holding an opinion” on the war in Palestine. He said he didn’t want students to face “similar repercussions.” 

At-Large Senator Abbey Andree motioned the resolution from last week while At-Large Senator Brooke Van Gelderen seconded the motion. The senators then went into executive session for an hour. 

President Sierra Roiger said the reason behind the executive session was to allow senators to read the updated resolution in its entirety and to make sure there were no distractions to focus on the content. 

“It was to get on the same page and then to really hone in on ‘OK,’ what is our role here?’ Who are we here to represent and how do we go about safely representing them, while also promoting and continuing to acknowledge the fact that this is a university where we are supposed to have a role we should be all be able to safely express our opinions or thoughts and respectfully talk to each other and respectfully disagree without being harmful or threatening towards one another?” Roiger said. 

Roiger said the resolution was tabled to vote on next week “to allow senators to ask questions of their representatives.”

“It’s typical procedure to have a two-week period with a resolution and we want to make sure to still allow everyone the opportunity to go ask the questions of their representatives,” Roiger said. “We want to make sure that (senators) have that time and that they’re truly putting their full representative weight into it.”

Header photo: Students sat amongst senators and held signs and the Palestine flag to advocate for a resolution protecting pro-palestinain voices and opinion. (Alexis Darkow/The Reporter)

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