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University of Michigan prohibits student vote on issues related to Israel-Hamas war

CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Dec. 6, 2023
CBS News Detroit Digital Brief for Dec. 6, 2023 04:00

The president of the University of Michigan said he has barred students from voting on two "controversial and divisive" resolutions related to the Israel-Hamas war.

"The proposed resolutions have done more to stoke fear, anger and animosity on our campus than they would ever accomplish as recommendations to the university," Santa Ono said in an online post Tuesday.

One pro-Palestinian resolution presented to student government asks the university to "recognize the millions of people undergoing genocide in Gaza" and to acknowledge "settler colonialism" there by Israel.

The other resolution asks that the university support students "impacted by ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza" and disclose plans to keep students safe. It also includes criticism of Hamas.

Each resolution seeking campus votes had more than 1,000 signatures. Ono said the resolutions were "controversial and divisive."

"The proposals have generated an involuntary and unwarranted amount of outside negative attention on a community whose primary objective is to learn, to teach, to research and to serve," he said. "It needs to stop."

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations accused the university of suppressing free speech.

"We are extremely concerned about the University of Michigan stifling the voices of its students in what appears to be a tacit endorsement of the ongoing war crimes currently taking place in Gaza," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid in a statement. "Unfortunately, the university which is supposed to be an environment for debating competing ideas, is undermining freedom of speech and conscience of its own student body and unduly favoring the feelings of some students over the concerns of many others.  

Seven of the eight members of the university's governing board supported Ono's statement.

Ono promised to schedule meetings with student leaders to discuss "real and tangible ways" to address concerns.

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