Our oldest son decided to serve our country in the Fall of 2009. After his high school graduation, he was whisked away in early August with other young people who had decided to join the USMC. After his successful 4 years in the military were finished, he enrolled in college via the Post 911 GI Bill and is now a freshman at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio.
We skype with him pretty much every Sunday afternoon, an NFL game usually playing in the background. So far, he’s spent most of his time studying, working part-time at the on campus Veteran’s Affairs office, and hanging out with extended relatives from his Dad’s side of the family. This past Sunday he asked, “Oh! Have you heard about the latest scandal at OU’s campus?” We hadn’t heard about the latest scandal. Suffice it to say, it was a “Welcome to Idiocy 101”, college-style, for our son.
Two weeks ago, the president of Ohio University, Dr. Roderick McDavis , issued an ALS ice bucket challenge to the Student Senate President, Megan Marzec. Ms. Marzec decided to do a bucket challenge but not for ALS. She had a video made of her pouring a “blood” bucket over herself while declaring that Ohio University should join a “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” movement against the nation of Israel. Ms. Marzec actually used red-food colored water, not real blood.
In her video, she shared “student” concerns about genocide in Gaza and it’s occupation by the Israeli State. Then she urged Dr. McDavis and Ohio University to “divest and cut all ties” with Israeli Academic Institutions and businesses. She said that the bucket of blood represented thousands of murdered and displaced Palestinians.
Ms. Marzec made her video on September 2nd. The Student Senate, later that same day, sent out a Tweet via Twitter to apologize for Senate President Marzec’s video, and then another tweet to state that their goal is to represent all students on campus and their views. The Wednesday after this video was created and aired, 4 Jewish students decided to speak out at a Student Government meeting and stage a filibuster, asking for Marzec’s resignation from the Student President position. Marzec asked for student Rebecca Sebo, President of Bobcats for Israel(the Bobcat is the mascot of Ohio University) to stop her filibuster so other students at the meeting could speak in an orderly manner. Sebo refused to stop and three other members of Bobcats for Israel also began to speak and join the filibuster. Marzec then warned the 4 protesters that if they didn’t stop they’d be arrested for disrupting the meeting. University Police were called and they gave the 4 protesters a 2 minute warning to stop their filibuster. The 4 students refused to stop speaking and were arrested, taken to the campus police station and charged with disruption of a lawful meeting. On September 12, Hillel International, a nationwide Jewish campus organization, has called upon Ohio University to apologize to the 4 students who were arrested: Rebecca Sebo, Max Peltz, Gabriel Sirkin, and Jonah Yulish.
My son’s take on all of this hubbub is that the students who were protesting at the Student Senate meeting shouldn’t have been arrested. Perhaps they should have followed the protocol that is used when one wants to speak at a Student Government meeting, Roberts Rules of Order, etc. However, stating their desire to have the Student President resign-that’s an offense where they needed to be arrested?
Ms. Marzec made a major error in her video. She said she was sharing “student” concerns. No, she was stating her “own” concerns, and perhaps if she’d made the video stating that it was her own opinion, and not say that all 17,000 students held her same views on Israel and Gaza and Palestinians, then perhaps her video blood bucket challenge wouldn’t have been so offensive.
In hindsight, if a University President, in a spirit of goodwill and bonhomie, asks one to participate in an ice water challenge to raise funds for a charity, than wouldn’t it be best for all at said University to honor the President’s request? The consequences of honoring President McDavis’s original challenge would have been nonexistant. Student President Marzec showed a lack of common sense in answering a simple request/challenge by turning a fun way to help a charity into an immature rant that was gross and offensive.
How invested is Ohio University in the nation of Israel? I don’t know and I don’t care! If the University was misusing students’ dollars to pay for lavish vacations for professors or for President McDavis, or if there was a major cheating scandal happening at the school, or even bullying going on, or lousy cafeteria food-those are the types of items I would anticipate a Student President and Student Senate to be concerned with, not what is going on in a nation very far away from Athens, Ohio. Idiocy 101; it happens in real life, and unfortunately, on college campuses.
Research for this blog provided by: “Ohio University divided over Student Senate president’s blood bucket challenge”, by Karen Farkas, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 16th, 2014.
“Ohio University Asked To Apologize Following Arrest of Pro-Israel Students”, by Stephen Adkins, University Herald, Sept. 15th, 2014.