Mich State student gov denies, then approves, 'Israel Week' funding

  • Michigan State University's Associated Students group originally denied the Jewish Student Union $15,365.00 for an "Israel Week" event.
  • The group's finance committee overturned the decision, but not without some backlash.

Michigan State University’s student government finance committee overturned its decision to deny funding to an “Israel Week” event, but not without opposing members voicing their opinions.

The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) functions on a budget of more than two million dollars. Its Student Allocations Board is a money-allocating branch formed of several student representatives. 

“Student money should not be going towards an event that is explicitly celebratory of a government…that is currently perpetrating genocide"   

On Oct. 17, the Student Allocations Board (SAB) denied the Jewish Student Union (JSU) $15,365.00 for the group’s week-long event “Israel Week”. The SAB used three specific reasons to justify withholding the requested money. 

These reasons included “focusing on Israel specifically was perceived as exclusive” and “members of the board did not feel comfortable funding an event with political implications.” 

[RELATED: Stanford RA threatens to ‘physically fight’ pro-Israel students]

The JSU appealed the ruling to the ASMSU Finance Committee at the Oct. 25 meeting. Campus Reform had access to a recording of the meeting and public documents that were distributed. 

“The role of SAB is not, has never been, and will never be to decide on what content is appropriate,” SAB Vice President Makenzie Bosworth stated, contradicting the organization’s previous decision. The vice president also began the Finance Committee discussion on the SAB role in funding requests, which is, “to look at a budget and say ‘is this financially responsible?’”

Her comments were consistent with JSU President Jason Scott’s opening statement. Scott pointed to the SAB hearing where his group “did not get any questions about the budget,” but rather received ones pertaining to the content, such as the political aims of the Israeli government. Scott asked ASMSU Finance Committee members to refrain from political commentary. In addition, he claimed that events during “Israel Week” “refrain from promoting any sort of political agenda.” 

The meeting ultimately centered on the failure of the SAB to properly fulfill its mandated task, but not after a debate over Israel’s legitimacy, offensiveness, and inclusivity.

“Student money should not be going towards an event that is explicitly celebratory of a government…that is currently perpetrating genocide,” said Lauren Pepper, an ASMSU representative to the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Other representatives made accusations relating to the exclusivity of both “Israel Week” and Black Power rallies. Isaiah Hawkins, a Music College representative and Janae Turner, the Black Student Alliance representative, both denounced this alleged parallel. 

[RELATED: College: Prof’s refusal to write Israel letter ‘disappointing’]

After a call to recess, many calls for civility, and lengthy debate, the discussion focused on Israel’s importance. ASMSU Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Eli Pales, brought attention to Israel’s significance as a “safe place for Jews and a place where [their] ideas are safe.” 

However, this point was refuted by ASMSU Liaison for Inclusivity and Diversity Dante Booker, who said she does not “think that this is a type of event where we would specifically be putting certain groups down.” 

The Finance Committee ultimately ruled 8-3 to overturn the SAB decision. 

SAB Representative Omar Elahdan announced his resignation after the vote, stating that he felt that he had failed to represent Arabs and Muslims across MSU’s campus.

Campus Reform reached out to the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, but received no comment in time for publication.

Follow the author on Twitter @SergeiKelley and Facebook at Sergei Kelley

Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Sergei Kelley
Sergei Kelley | Michigan Senior Campus Correspondent

Sergei Kelley is a Michigan Senior Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. A senior at Michigan State University, he studies Fisheries and Wildlife and Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy. He serves as the Chairman of the College Republicans at Michigan State, Special Adviser to MSU's TPUSA chapter, and Editor-in-Chief to the University's only conservative publication The Morning Watch. The publication has had several nationally referenced stories. A former representative in the student government; Associated Students of Michigan State University, he has spearheaded efforts to place mounted American and Spartan flags across campus, open elections for the executive board to the undergraduate body, increase financial transparency, and cut funding and taxes while fighting leftist legislation. In March 2018 he was awarded “Exemplary Representative of the Month.” He was also awarded Michigan Freedom Fund's "Freedom Fighter" award for November 2019.

20 Articles by Sergei Kelley