Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Hillel student presidents say Student Government violated bylaws after Palestine walkout repost

Megan Clarke

Texas Hillel, a UT Jewish organization publicly supporting Israel, said UT Student Government violated its constitutional rules at a meeting on Nov. 15 after sharing an Instagram post from the Palestine Solidarity Committee promoting a student walkout held in protest of UT’s response to the conflict and its investments in weapons manufacturers

The co-student presidents of Texas Hillel said Student Government violated Title 2, Article I, Chapter IV, Section 4.8 of the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures, which states that Student Government agencies’ activities are subject to “rules and regulations requiring that public advocacy statements and positions by UTSG members on issues directly related to the institution and its operations be formally authorized by the assembly,” and Article 1, Section 1.1 of the Student Government Constitution, which requires associations to state that members “do not speak on behalf of all students or the University” when “acting on non-University related matters.” 

“The outcomes of statements by student members of this forum and University staff have a direct impact on students’ sense of safety and belonging on our campus,” Texas Hillel’s co-student president Tyler Winter said at the forum. “This war and conflict are infinitely more nuanced than can be taught through a handful of social media infographics.”

At the forum, Texas Hillel’s co-student president Jacob Sanders said he feels the Jewish community at the University has been “continuously disregarded” by UTSG since the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.

“We are here to ask for an apology for the promotion of this event by Student Government, against your own bylaws, and that those who disregarded Student Government’s constitution be held accountable,” Sanders said at the forum. “By using your positions of power and reach with the student body to promote a specific narrative without any context, you actively took steps to further divide our campus community and put members of our campus in danger.”

According to Sara Kennedy, the director of strategic and executive communications for the Office of the Dean of Students, UTSG did not violate this bylaw because it is not an official student government agency. Instead, UTSG acts as a body serving as the “official voice of UT students” and not the institution.

“The way it works is we identify incidents on campus,” UTSG communications director Anamarie Cordova said. “From there, we determine if it was a University issue because those are the only things that Student Government is allowed to address. … We as an executive board decided that the lack of support for the Palestinian Solidarity Committee did become a University issue.”

UTSG President Helen Getachew said student organizations frequently reach out to repost certain things, and PSC reached out to a UTSG executive board member to repost the walkout. She said UTSG felt it fell into a similar procedure of reposting organization events when organizations reach out, meaning it does not require assembly approval.

Texas Hillel hopes UTSG issues an apology.

“We care about students, and in no way are we supposed to or want to ostracize certain groups on campus,” said Getachew. “It’s unfortunate that Texas Hillel felt that way, but we’re doing everything that we can to amend the situation.” 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated “UTSG is now in talks to go through the procedure to issue an apology.” which has now been removed. The Texan regrets this error. 

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