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College Council Bad

In other news today, Maud Mandel defended the students who sought to establish a new pro-Israel student organization Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI).

The Williams College Council turned down their application by a vote of 13-8-1 on April 23, 2019. The result was dismaying to pro-Israel factions on campus, in part, because it is nearly the only club to be denied status as a recognized student organization over the last decade. During that meeting, the founders of WIFI were also hammered with at least two anti-Semitic comments. These comments were observed by the parliamentarian, but not entered into the meeting minutes.

In a message today, Maud defended the club and appears to agree that the founders of the club were improperly treated by the College Council. She pulls no punches:

The transcript of the debate and vote indicate that the decision was made on political grounds.

In doing so, Council departed from its own process for reviewing student groups, which at no point identifies a proposed group’s politics as a criterion for review. The decision also seems to be in tension with CC bylaws, especially Article V, Section 3: “Prohibition Against Discrimination in Student Organizations.”

In her statement, Maud appeared to follow the lead of the WIFI students who condemned the outcome of the meeting and asserted in a Williams Record op-ed that their club “was denied official status on purely political grounds, as CC members and guests fought to silence us and effectively turned the meeting into a referendum on Israeli-Palestinian politics.” This unprecedented, politically motivated decision has attracted condemnation off campus too.

The Algemeiner – Williams College Student Leaders Deny Recognition to ‘Pro-Israel’ Group, Prompting Calls for Inquiry

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, head of the campus antisemitism monitor AMCHA Initiative, called the incident “a case of blatant discrimination and shameless intolerance.”

Yael Lerman, legal director at the Israel education and advocacy organization StandWithUs, likewise called on the university to investigate the CC’s vote.

Commentary – At Williams College, Zionists Need Not Apply: The Hall of Shame

Jonathan Marks, professor of politics at Ursinus College, “When much of the faculty at Williams signed a petition to adopt the University of Chicago’s powerful statement on free expression, which has been a model for more than fifty schools, some student protesters claimed the faculty was trying to kill them. In response to the controversy, President Maud Mandel put together a committee to “develop policies and an overarching philosophy about campus speakers and free expression.” It is perhaps too much to hope that this committee, whose report is expected this month, will attend to discrimination against pro-Israel speech at Williams.”

Jewish Journal – Williams College Pro-Israel Group Denied Recognition

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Simon Wiesenthal Center associate dean and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Global Action Agenda, said in a statement to the Journal that the council’s decision was “anti-Semitism on full display at Williams College. Apparently [there’s] no room for lovers of Zion and Israel among the bigots who control the vote. Where are the adults in the room?”

The College Fix – Williams College president blasts student government for refusing to recognize pro-Israel group

Academic Engagement Network, which opposes the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, wrote a letter to President Mandel to urge her “to take immediate action to reverse the decision of the CC and to give WIFI the RSO recognition that it deserves.”

A former Williams professor, KC Johnson, tweeted this decision is an embarrassment for the institution.

Pamela Geller tweeted: “Out and out Jew hatred. Plain and simple. Terror-tied groups like SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) run amok on campuses. There is a plague afoot.”

Joe Scarborough tweeted: “Given the growing antisemitic attacks in the US, and the historical hostility of many elite colleges toward the Jewish state created following the Holocaust, this is deeply disturbing. Mika and I love @WilliamsCollege⁩. We hope this is investigated.”

Full text of Maud Mandel’s statement after the break.

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