campus beat

University of Michigan calls off anti-Israel campus vote

Administrators cited ‘extraordinary, unprecedented interference’ in the elections process on the part of anti-Israel student groups

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Students walk across the University of Michigan campus January 17, 2003, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Administrators at the University of Michigan, where students had begun voting this week on a ballot measure accusing Israel of “genocide,” canceled the referendum, citing “extraordinary, unprecedented interference” tied to the sending of an “unauthorized” email to the entire student body encouraging support for the legislation.

The campus-wide email encouraging students to vote in favor of the “University Accountability in the Face of Genocide” resolution, which calls on the university “to recognize the millions of people undergoing genocide in Gaza,” was sent on Wednesday by a collective of more than 60 campus organizations, including the local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, Young Democratic Socialists of America and Sunrise Ann Arbor, under the banner of the “​​TAHRIR Coalition.” 

The organization leading the push for the referendum was Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), the campus’ chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The university also canceled a concurrent resolution, “[Central Student Government] Response to Atrocities in the Middle East,” that was put up for a vote alongside the SAFE-backed effort.

In an email sent to students on Thursday morning and obtained by Jewish Insider, University of Michigan Vice President and General Counsel Timothy Lynch said that the administration “immediately brought this violation to the attention of Central Student Government,” but that the student government “declined to address this threat to the integrity of the election results.”

Lynch said the university had initially allowed the referendum to move forward despite “serious concerns about the appropriateness of putting these types of questions up to a vote by the student body,” prior to the sending of the TAHRIR Coalition email. After the email was sent, Lynch said, the administration “has been left with no alternative but to cancel the portion of the election process.”

In response to Lynch’s statement, CSG denounced the university’s decision but acknowledged that “University policy had been breached by the mass email,” adding that CSG’s “governing documents do not clearly forbid this conduct.”

CSG defended the sending of the mass email calling for students to vote for the anti-Israel resolution, saying that the “email was approved by University personnel prior to its dissemination to the student body.” CSG further alleged that “doxxing” of students who sent the email “is inflammatory and Islamophobic.”

The ballot initiative has been condemned by current and former members of Congress with ties to the school, including Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), who graduated from the University of Michigan law school, and American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch, the former Florida congressman and a Michigan alumnus, who traveled to the campus this week to meet with students.

“[The University of Michigan] made the right decision to cancel the student vote today. Students violated University of Michigan policies, and the University must conduct a thorough investigation,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt posted on X. “From the beginning, this effort pitted students against one another and intensified hate at a time when Jewish students on campus were already vulnerable. The University of Michigan must now focus on bringing the community together.”

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