Students filed into the Board of Directors meeting this week to voice their opposition and frustration with California’s HR35 Resolution. HR35 was passed by the California Assembly in August to encourage university officials to increase their actions to stop anti-Semitism on campuses.
The problems with HR35 stem from the language used in the resolution. It has led to the interpretation that any student who protests against the Israeli government should be condemned and punished for their ethnic and hateful motivations.
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine spoke at the meeting to express their contempt for HR35. They believe students should have their basic First Amendment rights on a public university campus to challenge Israel’s governmental policies.
Secretary for Cultural Diversity, Ojaala Ahmad, coauthored a resolution in opposition to HR35. She urged senators to understand the importance of overturning HR35. Ahmad said, “HR35 mainly circulates around free speech and education. It stifles robust political debates and curbs freedom of expression because they claim it is anti-Semetic.”
ASI Vice President Jonathon Bolin added, “I usually try to remain unbiased, however I have to say that this is especially troubling because freedom of expression should be encouraged on university campuses.”
The passionate public comments of students and careful explanation of HR35 from Ahmad led senators to pass the resolution against HR35 in its first reading. There were suggestions for revising particular portions of the resolution, and will be further analyzed in the meetings to come.