By Kailee Dahan
When most people try to picture and describe the University of California, Davis they immediately think of the close-knit community of students, professors, and alumni that embrace people from all backgrounds. It is this welcoming atmosphere, as well as its prestigious reputation as a top public research institution, that makes UC Davis such a unique university. However, recent events on campus have changed this usually open and thriving college town into a hostile campus with a divided student body.
The rapid rise in tensions began in anticipation to a scheduled vote by the Associated Students of the University of California Davis (ASUCD) student senate panel on a pro-Palestinian resolution seeking to divest university funds from businesses that support Israel. The resolution passed on January 29 with an 8-2 vote (as well as 2 abstentions) and immediately triggered hostile feelings across campus. Before the vote was announced, Pro-Israeli supporters walked out of the crowded room, as an alternative to exchanging heated words amid a potentially upsetting decision. This has been the third year that divestment supporters have tried to push the issue through ASUCD senate, and the first year that the resolution has actually made it to a vote. The resolution calls on the UC Regents to “undertake practices of corporate social responsibility through divesting from corporations that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, violating both international humanitarian law and international human rights.”
Two days after the ASUCD Senate vote, an extremely uncomfortable atmosphere on campus became worse, when members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity awoke to find two swastikas spray-painted on their fraternity house. This sent shockwaves throughout the Davis community as many tried to grapple with the fact that someone could commit such a heinous act. As if the tense atmosphere on campus did not already heighten people’s emotions enough, this hate crime against the Jewish fraternity came a mere four days after Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau and honors the lives of the millions of people who lost their lives under the Nazis. The events that transpired at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house are currently being investigated as a hate crime by the UC Davis police.
These events motivated school administration to send out multiple emails expressing that the ASUCD Student Senate resolution does not represent the university’s views and condemning the atrocious acts against Alpha Epsilon Pi. The administration urged students not to stand for intolerance, and to remain united and strong during this trying time.
Unfortunately, after the University of California Student Association passed a resolution this past Sunday, February 8, calling for the UC Board of Regents to divest, both the UC Davis campus and the University of California system are even more divided. This vote has resulted in increased media coverage across the University of California system as students at various campuses voice their opinions on the controversial resolution.
Both of these votes are considered victories for local and global BDS movement supporters, however they have only created an extremely tense and unwelcoming atmosphere for students on campus, regardless of which side, if any, they support. While people want to feel that they belong and can identify with a cause or a group, it seems that these acts of intolerance and polarizing votes on the UC Davis campus are only hurting our usually cohesive community.
Everyone is entitled to their unique and honest opinions. However, this does not mean that we cannot coexist peacefully. Rather than trying to continually divide ourselves from our peers, we should stand together against intolerance and ensure that everyone feels welcome on our campus.