The University of Michigan has shut down a student vote on competing ballot initiatives about the war between Israel and Hamas. An email sent to undergraduates urging adoption of one of the initiatives violated university policy and “irreparably tainted” the vote, Timothy G. Lynch, the university’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement .
Voting, slated for three days and to end Thursday at 10 p.m., was upended over an email supporting the initiative that lambasts Israel. It declares Palestine “a victim of settler colonialism” and that Palestinians are undergoing “genocide” in Gaza. A group of students had asked the university to send out an email, which calls for the adoption of the measure, and the university complied. University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen told The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper, that “the content of the email violated U-M policy and proper procedures were not followed.”
The competing initiative focuses on the atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7 and condemns the rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia and hate speech surrounding the Israel-Hamas war.
“We do not know and never will know the voting results on these two resolutions,” said Lynch. “But, under the circumstances, the University has been left with no alternative but to cancel the portion of the election process for these two resolutions.”
Student government leaders decried the cancellation. “We side with no one except the student body at large,” said its elections committee in a statement. “We support students’ rights to vote in alignment with their beliefs on all of these issues. Sadly, the administration seems to disagree with this position.”
Both initiatives had failed to pass the student government’s assembly earlier in the semester, but met the requirements to become ballot initiatives. The elections committee said it hopes to relaunch both petitions in future.
Like many universities across the nation, the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, has been rocked by protests against Israel since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, which prompted Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
Last month 40 people were arrested and two police officers were injured during a protest in which 200 people entered the building housing the office of school President Santa Ono, calling for the university to divest from Israel.
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