LB votes to approve antisemitism definition

LB votes to approve antisemitism definition

Maddie Heinz, Staff Writer

At Macalester College Student Government’s (MCSG) last meeting of the semester, the Legislative Body (LB) allotted much of their time to discussing the new definition of antisemitism proposed by student members of IfNotNow. 

Gabe Karsh `25, Sophia Sahm `22 and the anonymous student present at last week’s MCSG meeting from IfNotNow were present at the meeting to continue their proposal to adopt a new definition of antisemitism. The college’s current definition of antisemitism comes from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). IfNotNow and many other students are critical of this definition because it conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. 

The proposed new definition, called the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA), is designed to support Jewish people and their struggles as well as protect people who speak out against Zionism or voice criticisms on Israel, especially Palestinian activists. The LB started this conversation at last week’s meeting and waited until this week to vote.

Because of the sensitivity of this discussion, the LB took time last week to speak to their constituents about what they thought about the proposed definition. First-year representative Joel Sadofsky `25 and junior representative Jonah Wexler `23*, who sponsored the resolution, both spoke out about harassing tweets they received. 

“As such, this adoption is evermore important as we seek to protect all students, especially those who oppose the occupation of Palestine,” Sadofsky said. 

MCSG President Shreya Nagdev `22 told the LB that one alum had left concerns about the new definition in a voicemail. Additionally, one anonymous student reported their support of the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism to FAC Chair Rebecca Gentry `23. The student warned that criticism of Israel can quickly lead to or stem from antisemitism.

Overall, however, LB members told the caucus that most constituents supported the JDA. 

“The people I’ve talked to are strongly for this resolution,” Sadofsky said. “I feel, as a Jewish student here, that I don’t want centuries of discrimination against my people to be used to silence the ability for Palestinian and Jewish students to protest the occupation.”

After discussion, the LB voted to unanimously approve the adoption of the JDA as written by IfNotNow, with none abstaining. 

After a short break, Shosuke Noma `23** went in front of the LB to propose the creation of a new chartered student organization, Mac Cyphers. Mac Cyphers is a freestyle hiphop dance group which emphasizes inclusion and expression. Macalester organizations need to be chartered in order to reserve space, something that Noma cited as a reason for becoming a chartered organization. The LB approved the organization with 23 in favor, none opposed and none abstaining. 

Gentry then introduced additional aid allocation requests for two student organizations: MacSlams and Fresh Concepts. MacSlams requested $3,953 for travel funds in order to attend the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Macalester typically does well at CUPSI, and the allocation was approved unanimously. 

Fresh Concepts, the Macalester improv group, requested a total of $5,875.61 for travel funds to Chicago in the spring semester. According to Fresh Concepts member and senior representative Eva Birkholz `22, the Chicago trip is an annual tradition in order to attend workshops and gain improv skills. The allocation was approved unanimously.

The rest of the night was devoted to various announcements from MCSG committees and representatives. Sophomore representative Bobbie Pennington `24 asked LB members to submit input on Macalester’s new strategic plan to him and other student champions. 

Finally, MCSG said goodbye to staff advisor and Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Laurie Adamson, who will not be present next semester as she is going on maternity leave. Director of Campus Center Programs and Services Andy Williams will take over as advisor for the spring semester. 

“I just want to thank you all for the time you’ve given,” Adamson said. “Your work on this campus matters and your connection with the students matters … and I’ll be back in this seat next fall, unless I win the lottery. Then I’m out!”

*Jonah Wexler is an opinion editor at The Mac Weekly

 **Shosuke Noma is the photo editor at The Mac Weekly