USG calls on Tulane to condemn religious intolerance after Tree of Life shooting

Sanjali De Silva, Senior Staff Reporter

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On Oct. 27, 11 people died in a shooting that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Some members of the Tulane Undergraduate Student Government said they immediately knew they would need to respond to these events on a community level.

Senators Eva Dils and Frederick Bell, Council Chair Elsa Rothenberg, Vice President for Student Life Joseph Sotile and Director of Student Safety Dawn Edelman drafted a legislation that was presented to the Senate on Nov. 6.

“It’s important that we did this because, when acts like this occur, it can make you feel very isolated,” Edelman said. “No matter how many Jewish students are on this campus, many members of the Jewish community felt alone in grappling with this and trying to wrestle with this.”

The legislation outlines the events that took place in Pittsburgh and recognizes the rippling effects it may be having on students on Tulane’s campus. It calls upon the university and undergraduate student governments to take firm stances against all acts of violence and religious intolerance.

“[The Undergraduate Student Government urges] members of the Tulane community to take action against all acts of hatred and intolerance in their personal lives and to continue to participate in community actions condemning acts of hatred towards those they share identities with and those they do not alike,” the legislation reads.

An amendment in the resolution included having a committee dedicated to looking at how actions of hate were managed by USG in the future. The broad nature of the amendment lead to some contention during Senate. After a moderated caucus, the amendment was dropped and the resolution passed.

“I think that the important part of that amendment is that we’re not just stopping at ‘this is bad’,” Dils said. “Of course it’s bad. Everybody understands that it’s bad. What are the things that we as a student body can come together and do in order to stop acts of hate on campus and beyond?”

Resolutions of this sentiment are not common for USG. After the amendment failed to pass the legislation didn’t have any action items and was primarily focused on condemning the violence. Dils said that this opens doors for more legislation like this in the future.

“I think if we can continuing combining that social justice mindset with the action pieces we can have some real impact moving forward with this type of work,” Dils said.

The legislation has since been presented to administration and religious leaders. Hillel Rabbi Yonah Schiller has shown support for the legislation and is excited to see these steps being taken by students.

“As long as resolutions such as these are constructed intentionally and with the voice of the communities they are standing with, as well as thoughtfully written on how to proceed after passing such a resolution, I think they can be an incredible tool to give support to our students and our community,” USG President Erin Blake said.