In response to “USG needs to allow a conversation on the occupation of Palestine”

Editor’s Note: Paul Rutecki is a former columnist for The Observer.

To the editor,

Last week, Timothy O’Shea expressed his view that the University should “fully divest its assets from companies that directly or indirectly fund the occupation of Palestine…”.  This cause is part of a broader movement known as Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Movement (BDS). O’Shea also acknowledges that his proposal is aligned with BDS, stating in the April 6 Executive Committee minutes, “This is an international movement.”

Although I respectfully disagree with O’Shea’s proposal, my main objection is that creating such a proposal is not the role of the treasurer of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). I too think that “the free exchange of ideas” is an essential component of inclusiveness and diversity, but I also contend that USG’s primary purpose is to put “Students First,” as written in the first sentence on the USG homepage.  

Putting students first means enacting changes that directly improve the student experience at CWRU. USG’s Initiative Tracker allows students to view the progress of initiatives that do just that, such as the goal posted on Feb. 19 to make campus events more accessible to students with disabilities. BDS, however, has no relation to the real needs of the student body. Rather than serving the interests of the student body, the proposal supplants its interests over the student body’s on a highly controversial political issue.

Sadly, the theme of USG representatives hijacking the organization as a means of advancing their personal political agendas has recently become commonplace. Regardless of your views on BDS, USG should be about the students, not politics. USG representatives have an obligation to put aside their personal views and listen to the students, who are their constituents.

Jason Richards recently wrote an excellent Opinion column in The Observer, in which he described the ant infestation that occurred in his residence hall room and the poor response he received from University Housing.  This occurrence is a real issue that USG should address. Maybe, USG should divest from ants.

Paul Rutecki

Class of 2018