After a contentious previous session, Associated Students of Madison began its 24th session with Chair Katrina Morrison apologizing for holding a meeting on the Jewish holiday of Passover last spring.
Former ASM representative Ariela Rivkin filed a suit against Morrison after she discussed legislation regarding human rights mechanisms or transparency on investment policy on April 12, which Rivkin said many Jewish students wouldn’t have been able to attend due to religious observances.
Despite having knowledge that the meeting fell on Passover, Morrison motioned to suspend the rules to discuss the ASM agenda entitled “Bylaw Change for the Creation of Financial Transparency and Ethics Subcommittee.”
Rivkin then filed a suit with The Summary Judgement and won the case. The Summary Judgement subsequently mandated Morrison to issue an apology at the first student council meeting.
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Morrison said, at the time, she thought the legislation needed another vote to pass, so Jewish students would be able to provide their input at the next ASM meeting.
“Passover is an incredibly important holiday and it deserves student council’s utmost respect,” Morrison said. “Along with all other religious holidays, student council should always make concerted efforts to accommodate students who may want to participate in the meeting, but are unable to do so due to holiday observances.”
Morrison said she’s committed to creating an environment within ASM in which everyone’s opinions are valid.
With the help of Coordinating Council, Morrison has created an ASM code of conduct to ensure all will be able to participate.
The code of conduct, which was heavily debated and eventually passed at Tuesday’s meeting, focuses on fostering an inclusive space to encourage collaboration while simultaneously details the consequences of failing to meeting those standards.
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ASM also passed a resolution against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred in an unanimous vote.
The resolution states that ASM condemns harassment, discrimination and intimidation of any kind toward all students of different identities and further apologizes for the actions that took place at the April 12 meeting.
The resolution also notes that anti-Semitic incidents tend to occur when anti-Israel legislation is introduced in student government or in a student body.
Morrison, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, said it’s important for ASM to reaffirm their beliefs on such incidents.
“I think it’s vital that [ASM] reaffirm our stance on discrimination, harassment and intimidation, and really make clear the values that we hold as a student council body, ” Morrison said.
Rep. Diego Villegas, another co-sponsor for the legislation, said he was pleased with ASM’s decision to pass the resolution.
Villegas also said the resolution is an opportunity for ASM to rebuild relationships with the affected communities.
“Having heard Chair Morrison’s apology and passing this resolution now presents the student government with the opportunity to work towards rebuilding relationships with the affected communities of the divestment legislation,” Villegas said.
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Rivkin, who attended the meeting despite not being in the 24th session said in a statement that she appreciated that Morrison spoke in a serious and heartfelt manner.
She added that she and the Jewish community are looking forward to Morrison’s leadership as a chair who includes the community in the future.
“I’m sincerely sorry for the hurt I’ve caused to the Jewish community,” Morrison said. “Until the end of my term, I will work every day to regain the trust of Jewish students of this university.”