By David Daoud
A student leader at Stanford University, was asked by a campus group about how her Jewish faith would impact her actions regarding Israel in the Student Senate, prompting allegations of antisemitism and an Anti-Defamation League inquiry, a campus publication reported.
As part of her campaign for student senate, Molly Horwitz applied for as many student group endorsements as possible, since an endorsement from each group would effectively secure their members’ votes for her candidacy. The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) endorsement is the most-sought after, due to its large size and vast influence, as well as the fact that it campaigns tirelessly for the candidates it endorses, according to the report.
During her interview with SOCC, Horwitz told The Stanford Review that one of the group’s leaders asked her, “Given your strong Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?” The question referred to divesting from Israel, an issue which was put to a vote and approved in the university’s Undergraduate Senate in February.
When Horwitz asked for clarification, an SOCC member responded by alluding to her application to the student senate and how her Jewish identity would affect her decisions in the student body.
After the interview, Horwitz e-mailed the school’s Elections Commissioner, Mr. Sajjan Sri-Kumar, about the incident, who then forwarded the complaint to other school administration officials. She also contacted the Anti-Defamation League, which responded to her in a letter on March 18, and is reportedly launching an inquiry into the incident.
Additionally, on April 9, The Stanford Review sent a letter to the SOCC’s leadership, requesting disclosure of all notes taken during the SOCC interview process, under the Associated Students of Stanford University’s Constitution’s Freedom of Information clause, in order to verify Ms. Horwitz’s claims. If SOCC refuses to comply with the request, The Stanford Review is planning to file a Constitutional Council Case against SOCC’s member organizations today.
According to Brandon Camhi, writing for The Stanford Review, while the SOCC is fully entitled to select the candidates that it believes will advocate for its agenda, “it does not have license to judge candidates purely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
A similar incident occurred at UCLA in early March, when Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major, was to be confirmed to the student council’s Judicial Board. Similarly to Horwitz, Beyda was asked by a member of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, “given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” After Beyda ended the interview, most of the debate in the council centered on her Jewish faith and affiliations.