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Special election pending for divestment issue

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The organization OSU Divest collected over 3,000 signatures to bring forth Issue 1 to the ballot. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Divest

The organization OSU Divest collected over 3,000 signatures to bring forth Issue 1 to the ballot. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Divest

Although Issue 1 didn’t get placed on the ballot for the 2015 Undergraduate Student Government election, Ohio State students might have the chance to vote on the issue in a special election later this month.

The USG Judicial Panel announced on Wednesday in a press release that the vote will take place from March 30 through April 1, pending approval from the USG General Assembly.

“To ensure fairness and student representation in this case, the Judicial Panel is instituting a special election as the only body charged with handling the entirety of undergraduate student elections,” the Judical Panel said in the release.

“We call upon the rest of USG, namely the General Assembly, to approve the issuance of a special election. We also call upon President Celia Wright and Vice President Leah Lacure (who have expressed their concerns about OSU Divest’s voice being blocked) to aid us in the assurance of fairness and integrity of elections and allow OSU Divest the chance to express their student voice via the special election on Issue (1).”

Issue 1 was brought forth by a petition from the organization OSU Divest, and asked whether student voters thought OSU should divest — or cut financial ties — from companies “complicit in Israeli human rights violations and the occupation of the Palestinian Territories,” according to the OSU Divest website.

Cruz Bonlarron Martínez, a fourth-year in geography and publicity director at the OSU Committee for Justice in Palestine, said in an email that OSU Divest, USG and the USG Judicial Panel had engaged in discussions following the Judicial Panel’s decision on Sunday to deny Issue 1 a spot on the USG ballot.

A rally was held in front of the Ohio Union prior to the Judicial Panel’s decision to create a special election on Wednesday, and was attended by approximately 40 people.

At the rally, organized by OSU Divest, students delivered speeches and shared their feelings on the subject.

The speeches touched on the apartheid that occurred in South Africa from 1948 through 1994, drawing parallels to the current events occurring in Israel and Palestine.

In the Wednesday release, the Judicial Panel defended its initial decision to deny Issue 1 a spot on the ballot because the petition failed to meet certain submission criteria outlined in the USG election bylaws.

“In the recent events surrounding the issue of Clerk vs. OSU Divest, we ruled in accordance with the USG election bylaws in that the lack of circulation signatures on OSU Divest’s petition entitled ‘Issue 1’ invalidated the overwhelming majority of their petition pages and determined that Issue 1 would not be on this year’s election ballot,” the release said.

According to USG’s Judicial Panel, for a petition to be valid, it must have the name of the circulator on every page. The petition from OSU Divest failed to have the name on all the pages, the panel said, so the pages without the name were thrown out.

The panel said the invalidity of the pages did not leave a “sufficient amount of signatures” for the petition to appear on the ballot, and added that had the name appeared on every page, the issue would have been included on the ballot.

Some students at the rally did not think this was a valid reason to disqualify the issue from appearing on the ballot.

“It wasn’t really grounds to disqualify them,” Akela Jennings, a fourth-year in public affairs and a member of OSU Divest said in reference to the ruling. “If anything, we could have had a fine or something like that. I feel like they might not have been trying to treat us unfairly, but the treatment was definitely going to stifle student voice.”

In the release, the Judicial Panel acknowledged “the presence of procedural error in the handling of this case,” specifically pointing out that the hearing to determine the validity of Issue 1 was held the day before USG elections began and that the petition was confirmed without the presence of a circulator spot on the page.

“Given that the panel is responsible for maintaining fair elections, the Judicial Panel feels that the procedural errors in this case were unjust,” the release said.

Vidar Thorsteinsson, a volunteer with OSU Divest who attended the rally, seemed confident that the issue will reappear later this year, even before the announcement was made.

“I think there’s no way that USG and the university would not let students have a legitimate vote on an issue like that, because there’s a very strong impetus behind this,” said Thorsteinsson, a fifth-year in a Ph.D. program in comparative studies. “We collected a lot of signatures, 3,000 students voices came out and said they want to have this issue voted on.”

18 comments

  1. Concerned Alumnus

    I my disgusted that our university would even consider this measure. These student rallies are obviously backed by a group not affiliated with our students. While it is wonderful that our students exercise their right to free speech I am skeptical that this issue is truly led by our students. I believe these measures across all the campuses in the US are being led and funded by Pro Palestian organizations with ties to terrorism. I hope our students are doing their due diligence and truly investigating behind the scenes of this dubious effort.

  2. I love how OSU Divest gets to pick and choose the rules they want to follow.

  3. Hear that folks? It doesn’t matter if you break the rules, scream loudly enough and you’ll get what you want!

  4. I do not support Israel, but Issue 1 does not deserve a special election. This is the second time that OSU Divest has had the rules changed for them by lying and crying until they got their way. First, they had the required signatures reduced from 5,000 to 3,000 and now they want more special treatment. All this has shown is how easy USG is to manipulate. The Judicial Panel enforced the rules, and then OSU Divest cries “discrimination” and the Judicial Panel caves in. Disgusting.

  5. My most sincere congratulations to OSU students who have succeeded in passing a boycott, divestment, and sanctions resolution. You have inspired students across the US. Keep up the good work. Millions of people in the middle east are with you.

  6. I’m very glad to see that things are moving forward for CJP in spite of great adversity. I would be ashamed to keep my affiliation with a university that rigidly remains complicit in genocide, apartheid, and state-sponsored terror. As things stand today, our campus’s relations with Israel reflect very poorly on our community. Hopefully we will choose to stand on the right side of history.

  7. OSU Divest is a very much racist group. How do they call Israel apartheid? Israel is not aparthied. When they call Israel apartheid, it is extremely racist for South Africans. We know apartheid. OSU Divest insults South Africa when they compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. They are not the same.

  8. Engineering Student

    That’s all fine and dandy that peopling are exercising their right to free speech, but I imagine the majority of students pushing for this aren’t engineering majors, which means they don’t have anything to lose if companies like Caterpillar cut ties. The engineering majors in the audience DO have something to lose: job and internship opportunities. We would greatly it if the non-engineering folks out there would stop trying so hard to jeopardize our career aspects with this nonsensical issue. If you want to get an issue heard, follow procedure like everyone else, and stop pushing for exceptions.

  9. I am so proud of OSU Divest for pushing forward, overcoming each bump that got in their way, and standing for freedom of speech! I am also proud of USG’ Judicail Panel for acting fairly & letting us students vote on this important issue. The people commenting that its okay to break the rules should never be the case at all. However, the procedural failure USG’s Judicial Panel has made towards OSU Divest are also breaking the rules and loosing integerity of the system. Can’t wait for the elections! I regained my faith in the buckeye community!

  10. Just like how OSU Divest should have followed the procedure, the USG’s Judicial Panel should have implemented a fair & correct procedure towards OSU Divest. They failed, which is why its been unfair towards us students. I am happy to hear about these special elections. Although I am unsure about the issue of divestment, I am happy to know that USG is back to representing our diverse community and standing with freedom of speech

  11. Human Rights Above All

    Those expressing concerns of being affected by divestment is very shallow and low. When it comes to basic human rights, your selfish concerns is never above it. Your taking your basic human rights for granted, while others are loosing their lives just to gain theirs. If you are human, you should always stand for human rights for every human. Do your research about these six companies that violate basic human rights before expressing concern about your own selfish needs.

  12. This isn’t a pro-human rights campaign, it’s an anti-Israel campaign.
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5347/palestinians-want-peace

  13. @Human Rights Above All

    People like you aren’t pro-human rights, you’re anti-Israel. The reason Israel can’t have lasting peace is because the Palestinians want Israel to fail more than they want themselves to succeed. Just look at the history.

  14. While I’m personally against OSUDivest, I am glad that it is getting its chance for a vote. I’m an engineering student, and I’m not really that concerned about the job pool because there are A LOT of other companies where students can find jobs. I don’t approve of Israel’s handling of the conflict either, but the Palestinians have violated human rights, too. Neither side is innocent.
    My opposition to the issue is that I am seeing the negative effect on the campus social dynamic: I see antisemitism going on. Fine, OSUDivest itself was not created under that intent. But a lot of its supporters joined the movement for those kind of reasons. Similar divestments at other universities (eg. UC Irvine and Davis) have resulted in antisemitic graffiti at Jewish facilities on campus, and I will not stand to see that happen on my campus.

  15. No matter how you feel about this issue, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that we’re sick of engineering students (and let’s be honest, likely one engineering student with a sockpuppet account or two) whining about how the ballot issue could cause them to lose jobs or internships.
    A.) The issue likely has no chance of passing through university senate, even if it is supported by a majority of students. It’s symbolic.
    B.) Even if it passed, I don’t buy that Caterpillar is going to blacklist all OSU students from working at their company, because that’s stupid if you think about it for more than 3 seconds.
    C.) There’s a world outside your engineering classes, and people care about things other than whether you get a job designing backhoe hinges or whatever. Try stepping outside your STEM bubble and participating in a debate of geopolitical significance with regard to more than your own personal job prospects.

  16. The putrid Nazi filth who call themselves OSU Divest can drop dead and roast in Hell.

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