Saturday, November 14, 2009

University of Michigan silences debate about Palestine.

All demands for boycott against Israel have been officially silenced, at all meetings of the Michigan Student Assembly (University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan).

Click on today's article in the "Arab American News", in the November 14-20, 2009 issue:

Here is the same "Arab American News" article, from the November 14-20, 2009 issue, as it appears online:

"UM silences debate about Palestine"

By Nick Meyer

Tuesday, 11.17.2009, 09:55pm

On the Web at:

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has long been a haven for political movements, and many times, they've been started at least partly by non-students.

But the right for non-students to speak at Michigan Student Assembly meetings has been compromised since the MSA passed a controversial resolution on Oct. 27 that will restrict "community input" at its weekly meetings, with preventing political talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suspected by many to be a key motive.

The resolution required a two-thirds majority and passed on its second vote by a 23-7 count after amendments were added to the first failed proposal requiring a written report each time community members are turned away from speaking. The first proposal failed by a 17-16 vote.

Now, the MSA will require that speakers show a valid, non-expired "MCard" confirming that they are affiliated with the university first. Non-affiliates must request permission from the executive board before speaking and their time will be shortened from five minutes per person to three minutes and from an hour to a half hour total for the segment.

The official explanation for the ruling was that the MSA wanted to limit the amount of time spent on "community concerns," now titled "community input," so it could focus more on campus-specific issues.

But MSA Representative Kate Stenvig of the Rackham Graduate School on campus, who voted against the resolution two separate times, said she believed that silencing political discussion was the main objective behind its passing.

"Really, I think what prompted this was the debate around Gaza," said Stenvig. "I think they use it is an excuse to limit any political debates they possibly could…there's a particular fear of debate around Israel and any political issues."

Stenvig said that the topic of Gaza and a potential divestment from Israel resolution is brought up often at meetings.

Blaine Coleman is one non-student who has pushed for a resolution regarding Gaza and divestment from Israel from the MSA on and off for the last nine years, as well as from the Ann Arbor City Council, which once was presented with a list of 1,000 signatures. He's seen the community comments segment shut down temporarily in the past, most notably in October 2000 when he said about 100 students asked the MSA for a divestment from Israel resolution.

Coleman doesn't believe that time is as big of an issue as the MSA has made it out to be.

"Why do they spend all semester working hard to shut these people up when it's just a lousy five minutes?" he asked. "They call it community concerns, and now they have just effectively banned the community from community concerns."

Also raising a few eyebrows was the MSA's decision to move the meeting from its usual place on the third floor of the Michigan Union Building to the Laurie Engineering Center on the north end of UM's campus.

Stenvig has been on campus since 1999 and said that the only other time such a move occurred was when it was moved to a larger venue to accommodate a large expected turnout.

This time, however, the meeting was held in seclusion away from students and community members, where Stenvig said some voting members of the MSA were locked out before being let in.

Stenvig agreed with Coleman that the time restriction explanation wasn't enough justification for the resolution and said she believes the MSA has more influence than it has let on in the political sphere.

"Any argument that our student government can't have an effect on political issues is historically wrong and it's cynical and it's ridiculous," she said.

Stenvig said that many of the student organizations on campus have non-student members who deserve to speak and she plans to fight the resolution, having filed a case with the central student judiciary and saying that it violates the student constitution.

"What me and other people have really argued is that they're limiting free speech rights and political participation of students who want them to take action on the issue," she said.

"Student government should be playing a role to make campus more welcoming to minority students and immigrant students and this resolution was an expression of a whole series of attacks on basic democracy."



As you can see, at first the Michigan Student Assembly refused to do it.

Quickly, a second meeting was held at a locked, distant location. Even members of the Assembly were locked outside. Finally the Assembly agreed to eliminate all community speakers, except those granted advance approval by an "executive board".

This move was in total defiance of the Constitutional "Right to Free Speech", and of the Open Meetings Act.

Yet the Zionists are so frantic to kill the Boycott-Israel movement, they will openly choke off your freedom of speech to do it.

You may not believe it, but that famous campus newspaper, the "Michigan Daily", has thrown its weight behind the effort to silence even the word "Gaza" from being spoken:


Editorial, October 11, 2009--


"Some students may recall the mockery that the Michigan Student Assembly made of itself last winter when it spent several meetings debating the passage of a resolution on the conflict in Gaza. In light of the derailment of MSA that resulted from discussing these issues at length, MSA is now considering a resolution that would focus debate by changing the policies for hearing community concerns. MSA should approve the proposal..."