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Ohio State Uni Student Government President Kills Antisemitic BDS Resolution

Pictured: OSU student senate BDS sponsors Suhavi Salmon-Rekhi, John Fuller, Rama Naboulsi and Yondris Ferguson

A resolution inspired by the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel that The Ohio State University student senate approved April 6 has died after the outgoing student senate president, Jacob Chang, failed to sign it.

Ethan Wolf, an alternate student senator who is a senior at The Ohio State University in Columbus, told the Columbus Jewish News April 13 the resolution – targeting Hewlett Packard and Caterpillar Inc. for their business interests in Israel – was doomed from the start.

“Whether the president signed it or not, whether it made it through the trustees or not, at the end, the end game was the same, because it was never going to be implemented,” Wolf said.

“It’s illegal in the state of Ohio to pass the divestment bill from the State of Israel specifically,” he added, referring to anti-BDS legislation passed by the Ohio legislature in 2016. “So it was a toothless bill that just put Jewish people at risk.”

The resolution passed by a vote of 14-8 with two abstentions.

Its main impact, Wolf said, will be to affect campus climate. “There’s still a lot of students that I think are going to be pretty upset with that,” he said, adding that because of the way the process was framed, no public forum took place before the vote, although more than 40 Jewish students had spoken about the resolution March 30. “I’m pretty upset that when people tried to bring those concerns to the table to be heard, they were silenced and shut out of the room.”

Benjamin Johnson, Ohio State University’s senior director of media relations, media and public relations, emailed a statement to the Columbus Jewish News April 13.

“Ohio State has an unwavering commitment to free speech and encourages our students, faculty and staff to engage in discussion and debate and respects the right of the USG General Assembly to engage in free expression on issues it believes are pertinent to campus affairs,” Johnson wrote. “Based on the USG bylaws, because the outgoing USG president did not sign this resolution, it represents the opinion of the outgoing USG General Assembly and not of the entire USG as an organization. This distinction means that this resolution does not meet the threshold described in the university’s investment policy, and the university will not move forward with any action on this resolution.”

Joseph Kohane, executive director of Ohio State University Hillel, said he was pleased with the ultimate outcome in an April 12 email to the Columbus Jewish News.

“This is a fitting end to a terrible resolution,” Kohane wrote.

Rabbi Levi Andrusier, executive director of Schottenstein Chabad House at OSU, praised Chang for “doing the right thing and not buckling under pressure.”