For those who don’t know me, my name is Dalia Zullig, and I have been a member of the Undergraduate Student Government for almost four years. I am many other things, but for the purposes of this letter to the editor, you can think of me as just a fourth-year Case Western Reserve University student and the secretary of the General Assembly of USG. This is my second year as secretary, and while I love the work I do, it is absolutely exhausting.
The secretary is an internally elected position, so I technically don’t represent the student body, and because of this I don’t have a vote in the assembly, but I do represent the assembly. I am one of three members of the Front Table, that includes the speaker for the General Assembly as well as the chief judicial officer (CJO), the latter of which is elected by the student body. Last semester, the former CJO, speaker and I were charged with running the referendum on the club that is now called Case for Life.
Whatever your feelings about the referendum entail, and whether or not you actually voted in it, what I want to tell you is that I believe we did the best we could. The referendum has only solidified the need for USG to completely overhaul our governing documents, which I am happy to say we are doing right now. We hope that our constitution will go to a referendum by the time spring elections happen in April and we plan on getting as much student feedback on it as possible. More on that later, as those documents are still being worked on, but you will definitely hear about it soon.
If you have been at CWRU as long as I have, you will also remember when the bill that called on the university to divest from companies that invested in Israel was introduced in the spring of 2018. For those who weren’t here then, the bill was never passed or rejected; Robert’s Rules allows for someone to motion for a bill to not be discussed again until a new assembly is formed, which someone did, and the new assembly never picked it back up.
Fast forward to last semester and USG is now tasked with either recognizing or not recognizing Students for Life (now Case for Life). This process actually started before the university went remote, so these discussions have been happening—if memory serves—since January. As secretary for both this and last year, I have been at every General Assembly and Executive Committee meeting taking minutes (which are public and you can see in our Public Access Drive). What I want to say here, and it is more of a request than an opinion, please recognize that some members of USG are on your side.
In both of these cases, I saw the students who weren’t in USG treat the students that were as one group. I am Jewish and when I was a first-year, I was still figuring out my stance on the Israel-Palestine issue, so to be labeled as anti-Semitic by frustrated Jewish students not in USG genuinely hurt. On the other hand, being labeled as a Zionist USG member was also hurtful, as I didn’t believe in Zionism.
Now, as a woman and a member of USG, I’m telling you that I hear the people who do not want this club to exist. I am also extremely frustrated at having to hear countless men share their opinions while the woman who is president of the club has not felt welcome to share her feelings, even though she has been at almost every USG meeting this semester. I want to hear her
thoughts because I know she has so many answers to our questions, but all I hear are male voices.
I am sick of having to teach men how to empathize with women’s struggles, and I am sick of having to label myself as someone who thought they might need some of these healthcare options to be taken seriously. Both people who are against the club and for the club do not listen to women, and that just tells me that this is not about women, this is about your opinion. Sometimes it’s better to just stop talking and listen to the women around you.
The problem that people get caught up with is that the free speech policy protects Case for Life, but if you really think about it, that means it protects you, too. I am not saying to follow them to their “peaceful vigils” because that only does more harm, but if you see they are tabling and you disagree with them, the free speech policy also protects your words against them. You can go up to them and have a (civil) conversation with them about where and why you disagree. You can start your own club, you can table right alongside them and you can hold meetings to discuss issues just as they do. Everything that they can do, you can as well.
I guess if you had to take something from this, it’s to listen to women, and to give USG a break. Nobody really steps back and thinks about all the stuff that USG does and has been through, and I’m tired of losing great members to the awful things that are said about USG.