USC’s Undergraduate Student Government Student Vice President Rose Ritch announced that she is resigning from her position on August 5th, saying that she was bullied for a being a supporter of Israel.
The USC Annenberg Media website reported in June that USC senior Abeer Tijani emailed USG requesting USG Student President Truman Fritz resign after anonymous posts on Instagram described alleged racist behavior. The website reported, “The accusations addressed Fritz’s alleged insensitive language while campaigning for his presidential election, specifically, his tendency to place students of color into one category. Fritz was also accused of seeming unconcerned with issues pertaining to Black students and of making students uncomfortable with ‘jokes and the use of certain names.’ ”
Tijani created a petition calling for the Fritz’s impeachment and said in an Instagram post that although Ritch should be impeached for supporting Israel, “it is important to acknowledge the dissatisfaction of Palestinian students and amplify their voices on campus — a ‘bigger issue that is greater than Rose and her personal affiliations,’ ” according to The Daily Trojan. Tijani also accused Ritch of being silent on Fritz’s alleged racial remarks. Tijani’s Instagram account is now private.
Ritch’s resignation letter, which she posted to Facebook, stated that various USC students have been pressuring and harassing her over the past few weeks because of her Zionist identity, not because of her queer identity.
“I have been told that my support for Israel has made me complicit in racism, and that, by association, I am racist,” she wrote. “Students launched an aggressive social media campaign to ‘impeach [my] Zionist a–.’ This is antisemitism, and cannot be tolerated at a University that proclaims to ‘nurture an environment of mutual respect and tolerance.’”
She added that her identity as a Jew and a Zionist are intertwined.
“Nearly 95% of American Jews support Israel as the Jewish state, inherently connected to our religious history and communal peoplehood,” Ritch wrote. “An attack on my Zionist identity is an attack on my Jewish identity. The suggestion that my support for a Jewish homeland would make me unfit for office or would justify my impeachment plays into the oldest stereotypes of Jews, including accusations of dual loyalty and holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.”
Ritch thanked the University for intervening against impeachment proceedings against her, but argued that the university needs to do more to protect Jewish students on campus. She proceeded to decry cancel culture on college campuses.
“Our campuses have shifted from authentic, in-person conversations to comments and retweets, and we ‘cancel’ anyone with whom we disagree on any issue,” she wrote. “There is a disturbing lack of nuance or willingness to grapple with the messy complexities of an issue, and there is no longer any room for change or growth. Students made presumptions about my Zionist identity and leapt to unfair conclusions. No one asked me to explain my passion for Israel. No one asked to learn together, to try to understand and build connections. Instead, the people with whom I have shared a campus with for years, the people whom I desperately want to serve, have tried to make me feel ashamed, invalidated, and dehumanized because of who I am.”
She added that her experience is not uncommon for Jewish and pro-Israel students on college campuses and that both the USG and the university have failed to create an inclusive space on campus.
“I deeply hope that this new chapter creates a space where all students feel included, safe, and valued,” Ritch concluded. “It will be a long road, but I am confident that you, the student body, will hold USG and its leaders accountable to the highest standards. Meaningful and productive change is just over the horizon.”