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Monday, May 27, 2024

ASUCD senator pushes for antisemitism education training

ASUCD SB #72, which would require antisemitism training for the ASUCD Senate table, was tabled due to concerns about the organization providing the training

 

By LILY FREEMAN — campus@theaggie.org

 

ASUCD Senate Bill #72, which, according to the bill language, would require antisemitism training for members of the Senate table, was introduced and subsequently tabled indefinitely at the March 2 meeting. The bill was authored by Senator Jacob Klein, who explained that his experiences with antisemitism led to the creation of the bill. 

“Antisemitism often comes from well-meaning individuals who do not realize how their language is problematic,” Klein said. “This fundamental lack of awareness results in antisemitic tropes, such as dual loyalty and the misrepresentation of Jewish people as being too powerful. In my eight weeks as an ASUCD senator, I have faced both of these vile tropes.” 

Klein went on to say that he would like to believe that none of this conduct toward him was intentional, and because of this, he believes that the only solution is education. 

If it had been passed, the training would have required all ASUCD Senate members to attend an hour-and-a-half training that covered topics related to antisemitism, according to Klein. The training would focus on the Jewish identity and experience, historical and contemporary manifestations of antisemitism and antisemitism on college campuses. 

Prior to the introduction of SB #72, according to Klein, the bill was passed by the External Affairs Commission and the Gender and Sexuality Commission. However, the bill was rejected twice by the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission (ECAC). 

Gabriel Gaysinsky, a second-year international relations and Middle Eastern/South Asia Studies double major and an ECAC commissioner, was one of two ECAC commissioners who voted in favor of SB #72 out of nine total. Gaysinsky spoke about various occurrences of antisemitism at UC Davis, which he said justifies the necessity for ASUCD antisemitism training. 

“The rockets fired […] towards Israeli civilians were gleefully drawn on the UC Davis quad last month,” Gaysinsky said. “Jewish and Israeli groups on campus have been shouted down and verbally harassed, with our events at times being shut down out of fear for our safety. This all works in tandem with […] the banners displaying antisemitic messages in the summer and swastika graffiti in the fall make the campus an extremely unsafe space for its Jewish students.” 

Once SB #72 reached the Senate floor, it was tabled. According to Klein, this was due to unforeseen issues with the organization that was going to run the training, the Academic Engagement Network (AEN).

Interim Senator Shrey Gupta discussed these issues and his reasoning for wanting to table the bill. 

“AEN as an organization is not the right choice for UC Davis,” Gupta said. “I don’t have the specifics on hand, but it was revealed they were tied to or receiving funding from the Israeli government. Working with an organization with such a partisan stance in world politics opposes the beliefs of our Palestinian students, which wouldn’t be a very good thing.” 

Gupta outlined that the goal now is to find an organization to conduct the training that does not take a stance on the matter, in order to present all perspectives. 

Now that SB #72 has been deliberated on and tabled, Klein said that he is currently working on re-submitting the bill with a different training organization. 

Klein concluded with his final thoughts on the need for antisemitism training through this bill. 

“People should be aware of the impact of their words and of what, historically, these sentiments have resulted in,” Klein said. “Ultimately, having an hour-and-a-half training can cover a lot of these nuances and a lot of these miscommunications to make sure that in the future we all have enough of an understanding to move forward together.”

 

Written by: Lily Freeman — campus@theaggie.org