By Alexa Gold
A body of Palestinian students and allies joined the first meeting of the 23rd Undergraduate Senate to rebuke the language Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) President Christian Giadolor ’21 M.A. ’22 and Vice-President Cricket Bidleman ’21 M.A. ’22 used in a Monday email about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“Our hearts go out to the countless Israeli and Palestinian citizens that have lost their lives this last week alone, to the families who now mourn their loss and to all those that have had their lives irreversibly changed in one way or another since the beginning of the conflict,” Giadolor and Bidleman wrote.
They continued, “As Israel and Hamas continue to trade rockets and missiles and mob violence breaks out on the streets of Israel, we want to acknowledge that the many images of burning buildings and of IDF and Jordinian [sic] police shooting live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas into crowds of protesters have conjured painful memories of the police violence that happens and continues to happen here in the United States.”
According to Hassan Fahmy ’21, the language used in the ASSU executives’ email did not take a strong enough stance on the one-sided attack on Palestinians, which he said many students would have appreciated. He added that the ASSU’s neutrality on this issue does not align with their expression of strong opinions on other issues in the past. Senan Khawaja ’24 also added that the description of the conflict was not representative of the asymmetry of violence being inflicted on Palestinians in Israel.
Giadolor said that the purpose of the ASSU is to represent Jewish and Israeli students as well as Palestinian students, and that representing one side of the conflict over the other would be unfair. Several students responded that rather than taking a particular side, the ASSU executives should have presented more detailed information about the conflict supplemented by statistical figures to allow students to decide for themselves with which side they agreed.
Ultimately, the group of Palestinian students and allies decided that Maryam Khalil ’23 — because of her familiarity with the senators and their particular positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict — would select a group of senators with whom to work on a resolution to make their asks from the ASSU on this issue more explicit.
Senators also voted unanimously to replace the traditional single-chair system and moved to elect two co-chairs in the new Senate structure. Senators Emily Nichols ’23, Alain Perez ’23 and Darryl Thompson ’23 were nominated for the position, and Nichols and Perez were elected.
During their five-minute speeches, Perez said that he hoped to connect more effectively with both the larger Stanford community and the smaller communities on campus; Nichols spoke about mobilizing, connecting with faculty and expanding the scope of the Senate, and Thompson said he wanted to focus on improving the link between the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Student Council.
As the meeting approached the three-hour mark, senators moved to adjourn the session and postpone the election of deputy chair until next week.
This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Christian Giadolor’s name. The Daily regrets this error. This article has also been updated to clarify a statement made by Hassan Fahmy.