Letter to the editor: Indianapolis community groups and Butler student organizations oppose SGA resolutions

Graphic courtesy of Corrina Riess.

Dear Butler Community, 

In the past two weeks, you have witnessed a slew of appalling attacks against Palestinians and the freedom of speech of people of color on Butler University’s campus. From alt-right wing Twitter influencers, to emails from the Vice President of Student Affairs, these attacks have been incessant and ruthless. As part of these attacks, three resolutions have been presented in front of Butler SGA Student Senate — two of which will be presented at this upcoming meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is about freedom. It’s about stopping the flow of weapons and funds to a state that is oppressing an entire civilian population by using celebrated social justice tactics like boycotts and divestment. As students, we have a right to advocate for freedom and justice. This right is even more critical when our tax dollars and university funds directly contribute to injustice. The U.S. gives Israel $3.8 billion in foreign military aid every year: money and arms used to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians living under a brutal and grinding military occupation. 

Across the country, boycott and divestment resolutions — and even educational events about BDS — have been viciously and deceptively attacked by campus administrations and others who seek to suppress the political expression of Black, Brown, Indigenous and other marginalized communities who advocate for Palestinian rights. This suppression has now come to our own campus. 

Anti-BDS legislation, such as Resolution 2021-022, upholds a legacy of repression and disenfranchisement. Anti-BDS legislation does not protect us. It strips us of our most basic rights.

Furthermore, anti-BDS legislation attempts to conflate valid and legitimate criticisms of the Israeli State with anti-Semitism. The second resolution, Resolution 2021-021, aims to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism which equates criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism. This, in turn, effectively silences human rights advocates, encourages fear-mongering and manufactures division. As students who value democracy, justice and equality, we are obliged to criticize governmental policies, for we know that critique is aimed at the policies of the state, not the people who live there. 

More importantly, however, we know the deepest truth: fighting anti-Semitism is inextricably linked to the fight against all other forms of oppression, including white supremacy and Islamophobia. Fighting anti-Semitism is an indispensable part of the fight for Palestinian liberation and self-determination. It is all the same struggle, and it always has been. The definition that Resolution 2021-021 aims to adopt, the IHRA redefinition of anti-Semitism, conflates opposition to injustice with anti-Semitism and denies this simple truth in an exploitative and self-defeating manner. Authoritarian attacks on the free speech of Palestinians and their allies will never protect Jewish students, but will, in fact, exacerbate divisions in places where solidarity is more crucial than ever.

We, the undersigned broad coalition of campus and community political, cultural and religious organizations, stand explicitly against Student Senate Resolutions 2021-022 and 2021-021, which seek to repress supporters of a nonviolent movement for justice and to weaponize a spurious definition of anti-Semitism against human rights advocates, respectively. We affirm the right to political speech on college and university campuses, and we stand unwaveringly in support of Students for Justice in Palestine at Butler University as they firmly resist racist, anti-Arab and Islamophobic repression. Now, we are asking you, as members of the Butler community, as constituents of SGA senators, and as people who believe in social justice, equality and freedom for all people — stand with us. 

We urge you to reach out to your SGA senators before 6 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2020, and reaffirm your commitment to freedom, equality and justice by condemning these resolutions.

Please read our full statement here.

Until liberation,

Butler University Organizations:

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

Bust the B.U.B.B.L.E.

Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance (APIA)

LGBTQ+ Alliance

Latinx Student Union (LSU)

Gender Equity Movement (GEM)

Black Student Union (BSU)

International Club 


Indianapolis Community Organizations:

Jewish Voice for Peace- Indiana (JVP)

Indy10 (Black Lives Matter- Indianapolis)

Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance (IUYA)

Showing Up for Racial Justice- Indianapolis (SURJ)

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism- Indiana (ANSWER)


Party for Socialism and Liberation- Indianapolis (PSL)

Indy Feminists

Central Indiana Democratic Socialists of America (CINDSA)


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