The Duke University student government president denied official recognition to a Students Supporting Israel chapter over an “unacceptable” social media post.
During the Nov. 10 Duke Student Government senate meeting, the proposed Students Supporting Israel chapter was granted official recognition. However, when legislation approving the pro-Israel organization went to student government President Christina Wang, she vetoed it.
In a statement to Duke Student Government senators obtained by the Duke Chronicle on Nov. 15, Wang said that she decided not to allow Students Supporting Israel to become an official recognized student organization because of a social media post responding to criticism from another student.
Wang claimed that Students Supporting Israel “singled out an individual student on their organization’s social media account in a way that was unacceptable for any student group and appeared antithetical to the group’s stated mission to be welcoming and inclusive to all Duke students, and educational in mission and purpose,” according to the article.
One student tweeted, “My school promotes settler colonialism” in response to the student government senate approving the Students Supporting Israel chapter.
The Students Supporting Israel Instagram account responded to the student in a now-deleted post, using it as an opportunity to explain why they view her opinion as incorrect.
“To Yana and others like her, please allow us to educate you on what ‘settler colonialism’ actually is and why Israel does not fall under this category whatsoever,” the group said. “These types of false narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn.”
In an Instagram post responding to the veto, the group said that they believe that a removal of their group from campus would limit free speech.
“To remove our group from campus conversation in order to protect a public antisemitic statement by a student is to side with that of the oppressor, limit free speech, and excuse antisemitism to persist at Duke University,” the group said.
The group also retracted an earlier apology, saying they were “gaslighted into believing we did something wrong.”
However, the student organization does not believe that the Instagram post was inappropriate and told Fox News that they were trying to create a dialogue with other students on campus.
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“That’s just another reason, in our opinion, why students supporting Israel is such an important movement to bring to Duke’s campus. So many people are clearly either uneducated, genuinely, on the topic, or just so ignorant and one-sided on the topic that we need to be an educational force for them,” the co-president of the organization said.
According to the organization’s mission statement, the group exists to help change an anti-Israel climate on campus.
“We are changing the anti-Israel climate many students encounter on campus. By being part of a united, strong and thriving international movement, students are empowered to express their views in support of Israel,” the mission statement says.
A Duke University spokesperson pointed Fox News towards a statement from Jewish Life at Duke, but did not comment on the situation further.
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and president of the pro-Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs, said in a statement to Fox News that the organization has a right to be on campus.
“It is very concerning that the [DSG] president has chosen to veto recognition of Duke’s SSI chapter based on the misguided notion that calling out false and inflammatory anti-Israel rhetoric online is unethical. SSI had every right to respond to the polemics, and the student who posted her opinion about having an SSI group on campus should have expected a response to her antisemitic comment. Penalizing the SSI group for responding to an antisemitic comment represents a double standard. We call on Duke’s student government to reverse this poor decision,” Rothstein said.