The University of Michigan student government indefinitely postponed voting on an Israel divestment bill, prompting the campus’s pro-Palestinian group to launch a highly ironic illegal occupation of the student government building.
Now, both Jewish and Palestinian members of campus are receiving threatening messages from activists on either side of the issue, and the UM administration is calling for anti-Israeli students to end their sit-in before the police become involved, according to The Michigan Daily.
The controversial resolution would have asked the university to divest its financial assets from the state of Israel in protest of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. An anti-Israeli student group, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, fervently backed the bill, and was hoping to draw further attention to their cause. Similar divestment bills have created tension between Jewish and Arab students on campuses around the country.
UM’s Central Student Government opted not to vote on the bill, instead tabling it indefinitely. This outcome infuriated SAFE activists, who launched a protest and sit-in of the CSG headquarters at the Michigan Union building.
Their occupation is unlawful and constitutes trespassing, but administrators have so far been reluctant to involve the police.
Michael Proppe, a business student and president of CSG, issued a statement in which he repeatedly apologized to those who were disappointed by the decision to table the resolution. However, he condemned the hostile tactics on display by SAFE members and other activists.
“The threats against students are unacceptable,” Proppe told The Daily Caller. “I have denounced them and have asked the leaders of SAFE to do so as well.”
Proppe said that he personally opposes the divestment resolution.
“I am not a supporter of the divestment resolution and believe the intentions behind the tabling of it were good,” he said. “But I never want a student group to walk away feeling as though the student government did not hear them out, even a group whose goals and tactics I disagree with.”
SAFE has presented a list of its demands, which include that CSG issue a written apology and rescind its decision to cancel the vote. SAFE also wants all CSG members to be forced to attend an instructional “teach-in” on divestment hosted by SAFE.
Proppe said that was never going to happen.
“I explained there was no way to make attendance of representatives at a teach-in mandatory,” he said.
Student groups that make demands have recently been getting their way at UM, however. The Black Student Union, an activist group of minority students, recently demanded that the university build an expensive new multicultural center or face unspecified “physical action.”
Administrators complied, and will renovate the Trotter Multicultural House to the tune of $300,000. (RELATED: Umich meets demands of students who threatened ‘physical action’)