Letter to the editor:
This year during the Undergraduate Student Government elections, students are being asked to express their opinion on whether the Ohio State University should have financial ties with companies that do business with the nation of Israel.
The two authors of this letter have very different backgrounds. One of us is Christian, the other is Jewish. One of us is a Republican, the other is a Democrat. One of us grew up in a small town in Southeast Ohio, and the other grew up in Cincinnati. But we do have some things in common: We both had the privilege to serve as the USG president during our years as OSU students, we both bleed Scarlet and Gray and we both believe that this proposal is bad for Ohio State.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is incredibly complex, and OSU provides a wonderful setting to study and debate the conflict in an intellectually honest manner. Unfortunately, this ballot proposal does just the opposite. It is one-sided propaganda written by an outside national group who systemically spreads its extreme views from campus to campus in a similar fashion.
We know that the Buckeye community is wise enough to see past this. Many people come to OSU because of its reputation for diversity and inclusion. It is a university where people of all different backgrounds are able to work together. The State of Israel, which contains holy sites for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, embodies this same spirit of diversity and inclusion. Discriminatory tactics like this ballot proposal only serve to widen the gap between the two groups. Instead, we should be working toward bringing both sides together in the spirit of a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Additionally, many of the companies with which this ballot initiative asks the university to end its relationship are companies that invest in our students and provide jobs to our alumni. Boeing and GE Aviation are examples of companies that could be harmed. Boeing supports approximately 397,000 jobs in Ohio and contributes more than $2.5 million to Ohio charities. GE Aviation has a tremendous partnership with our College of Engineering. Currently, the company has 40 paid student researchers from OSU. It is the top intern employer in the College of Engineering and the second-largest employer of College of Engineering alumni. These are strong American companies that invest in our state, our university, our students and our alumni. Why on earth would we want to stop investing in them?
There’s no doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is tragic. Far too many lives have been lost. However, this ballot initiative is not about religion or politics. Instead, it’s about the core values of our Buckeye community. No matter your viewpoint on hot-button issues, we hope you can agree that our community values diversity and intellectual curiosity and rejects intolerance and propaganda. We both hope and believe that the research and teaching that takes place every day at OSU will one day contribute to a lasting peace in the Middle East. In the meantime, we hope that students will come together and vote NO on this ballot initiative, just as the two of us have come together to oppose it.
USG President 2010-11
USG President 2012-14