By Valeria Chazin

On November 10, a proposed resolution calling for a moment of recognition of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks failed to pass in the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) by a vote of 36-23. This was in spite of the support of the MSA’s senior leadership, as well as University President for such moment of recognition, as reported in a statement published by the Minnesota College Republicans, the group responsible for presenting the resolution.


The reasons for voting down the resolution and the discussions taking place around it were no less than absurd. Campus Reform quoted
Nathan Amundson, the President of the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, saying that “debate on the resolution centered around whether enacting the moment of recognition might instill a more “islamophobic” sentiment on campus.” At-large MSA representative and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, David Algadi, was quoted saying that “the passing of this resolution might make a space that is unsafe for students on campus even more unsafe.”


As the news about the failed resolution made its way to national channels, including Fox News, the Independent Journal and other publications, MSA itself issued a statement about the reasons behind the vote. The statement read that while discussion of the potential perpetuation of islamophobia “was certainly a valid and unanswered concern of the body,” there was also a concern over the lack of concrete steps describing how to implement such moment of silence. In other words, the resolution about the moment of recognition was voted down because the forum members “didn’t know how this could be done.”


Students Supporting Israel 9/11 Memorial at the University of Minnesota Campus, 2014


No matter how MSA will present the vote, the reasons - or excuses - stated for it are sad and disheartening. To start, resolutions in student bodies are usually a mere recommendation for action. In its statement, MSA even points this out by saying that a resolution “is inherently a call for action.” There is no need for a resolution to go into great details about actual implementation, so if majority of MSA members were truly supporting a 9/11 moment of recognition, there should have been no issue to pass the resolution and work out the logistics later.


However, the logistics issue presented at the MSA statement sounded as an attempt to cover up the real matter, because the more interesting conversation is about today’s college students who think of a 9/11 moment of recognition as something that will make an unsafe campus space or will promote islamophobia. Such flawed reasoning is unfortunately the not surprising result of a radical political correctness approach that has taken over campuses and academia. Seeing the 9/11 moment of recognition as promoting islamophobia is as an invalid concern as saying that a Holocaust memorial should not be held because it can offend the Germans. Since when did it become reasonable that to remember the victims, we need to be concerned about the feelings of the attackers? By trying too hard to be inclusive and open minded, those students who voiced such concerns are doing exactly the opposite - they are generalizing, stereotyping, and dividing among groups of people.


Students Supporting Israel 9/11 Memorial at the University of Minnesota Campus, 2015

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Students Supporting Israel has been holding an annual 9/11 memorial at the University of Minnesota campus for three years in a row. This year, as the movement grew, the memorial took place on 25 college campuses led by Students Supporting Israel chapters. In all those three years of running the memorial event, not even once a student approached our group saying that they feel unsafe by the memorial, and not a single student started treating fellow Muslim students differently because of it. The opposite is true. All students who walked by the memorial or participated in it were very respectful, focusing on the memory of the victims, and the hope for such terrible terror attacks as on 9/11 to never happen again. 


The problem therefore, lies not in holding a 9/11 moment of recognition, or any other memorial on campus. The problem lies in the growing trend among college students of seeing discrimination where there is none, and of turning a blind eye to matters that are actually important. Were those same MSA members who expressed concern for 9/11 recognition to create an unsafe space on campus were also concerned when swastikas were drawn on Students Supporting Israel posters, creating a real unsafe space for Israel supporters on campus? Were they also concerned when an Israeli law professor was recently brutally interrupted by pro-Palestinian activists from SJP and the Anti-War Committee just because he was a Jewish Israeli? Not at all concerned, and no statements were publically made. Such selective topics of “concern” by some of the MSA students thus are what really make campus an unsafe space, creating true discrimination and close mildness at a place that should be open to all opinions, even those one disagrees with.        


Valeria Chazin is the Chairwoman of the Board of Students Supporting Israel - SSI, a 501(c)(3) pro-Israel, grassroots, students organization. For more information visit the SSI website at www.ssimovement.org


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