SAFE representatives call for dismissal of CSG member
At a Central Student Government meeting Tuesday, representatives from Students Allied for Freedom and Equality called on the body to dismiss a representative for his conduct toward SAFE demonstrators on the Diag.
The demonstration at which the conduct occurred took place last Thursday and featured two 8-by-12-foot mock walls to represent the 25-foot security wall that separates Israel and the West Bank.
During the CSG meeting on Tuesday, SAFE members played a video of the interaction between demonstrators and CSG representative Jesse Arm, an LSA sophomore.
“You’re not serious about this, with these signs here,” Arm said in the video. “It’s disgusting. Take it down, you’re not serious.”
In the video, a member of SAFE said she would take down the mock wall when the real wall was taken down in Israel.
SAFE member Devin Jones, an LSA senior, said Arm was demonstrating conduct unbecoming of a regular student, let alone a CSG representative.
“For you to think you have some type of right to come up to us and vent in that way is irresponsible,” Jones said. “Palestinians deal with this sort of abuse every single day.”
Jones said Arm and other students verbally targeted SAFE because of a terrorist attack that occurred earlier that day in the West Bank, during which three people were killed. Jones said the organization could not have foreseen before they planned the demonstration.
“We reserved it a month in advance,” he said. “We were talking about specific Palestinian suffering in result of state policy, and you wanted to point to the tragedy of that day. We’re being held to a double standard that should not exist for a student group.”
Arm responded to the allegations by apologizing to SAFE, saying he acted emotionally because a friend of his was killed in the terrorist attack — the dead included Ezra Schwartz, an American taking a gap year in Israel.
Arm said he does not believe in censorship, but does believe in his right to challenge the protesters on behalf of constituents who may feel similarly to him.
“I felt I questioned the taste, timing and appropriateness of this display. I specifically proposed that at the time, as opposed to an incendiary protest portraying students as terrorists,” Arm said. “I represent students who felt marginalized and unsafe by the protest. I don’t think I’ve done anything to jeopardize my position on this assembly.”
CSG representative Branden Shafer, an LSA senior, said he was concerned by Arm’s assertion that he acted in accordance with those he represents by asking SAFE to take the wall down.
“I would caution you to remember that we are representatives of campus, and not just representing our friend groups,” Shafer said.
Arm said he stood by his actions on the Diag.
“I don’t feel it’s fair to say that what I did to you was racist,” he said. “If you’re going to protest, you should expect to be challenged on that protest. Of course I’m upset by the way things played out, but I’m happy that I got my content out there.”
LSA junior Noah Betman, CSG speaker of the assembly, said the matter would be investigated by the CSG Ethics Committee and that, due to the sensitive nature of these meetings, they will be closed to the public.
CSG President Cooper Charlton, an LSA senior, said he initially heard about the exchange via Facebook.
“(I’m) not taking any sides, but I know if they proposed that an ethics review comes about I’m looking forward to see how that conversation goes,” he said.
CSG General Counsel Jacob Pearlman, a Public Policy sophomore, said though the actions were committed by a member of the assembly, they in no way serve as an official representation of the views of CSG.
“As the legal guy here, it would be a mistake of mine to not say that these actions were taken independently and were not sponsored by Central Student Government,” he said.