About 70 students gathered in Kogan Plaza at noon Wednesday to condemn the Student Association Senate’s failure to censure a senator accused of anti-Semitism.
The group stood together in silence for 1,986 seconds, or 33 minutes, to represent the 1,986 anti-Semitic attacks recorded in 2017, student leaders who organized the event said.
The SA Senate failed Monday to reach the two-thirds majority required to censure Sen. Brady Forrest, G-at-Large, who faced accusations of anti-Semitism last month – a decision that drew swift backlash from student leaders who said the senate failed to represent Jewish students.
During Forrest’s campaign for executive vice president, students resurfaced old Facebook posts in which he called for a boycott of a multicultural event because it was co-sponsored by Jewish student organizations, which he said supported Israeli military attacks on Palestinians in 2014.
Senators removed Forrest as pro-tempore of the senate and initiated censure proceedings against him earlier this month after nearly 70 student leaders called on him to resign. If the censure proceedings had been successful, Forrest could have been suspended from the senate for up to a month.
Maya Slavkin, a sophomore who organized the event, stood with 12 students around the clock tower in Kogan and began the demonstration by thanking students for attending and saying the event intended to mirror the silence that senators showed when they were presented with anti-Semitism.
“The SA has failed the Jewish community at GW, and we do not feel safe knowing that student leaders don’t think we matter,” Slavkin said. “Anti-Semitism will not be accepted on this campus.”
Slavkin said the event will be followed with a writing workshop Wednesday night in the Hillel townhouse, where students can write letters to administrators about how to prevent anti-Semitism from being accepted on campus in the future.
Two students at the protest held signs that read “My grandparents did not survive the Holocaust for this” and “My Judaism does not matter here.” One student held a sign with the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
Ashley Le, the SA’s president-elect, attended the demonstration and said this is a crucial time for students to come together and “stand out for the part of the communities that are feeling hurt.”
“While there is a lot of disappointment regarding what happened on Monday night, I believe it is a good time for us to take a step back and reflect and learn from our mistakes and make sure that we can do better and be better,” Le said.
Max Webb, a freshman who attended the event, said he felt betrayed when the senate decided not to censure Forrest Monday.
“I’m here with my fellow Jewish students and our allies to show that our voices won’t be silenced – they’ll never be silenced again, not like it has been in the past history,” Webb said. “This is unacceptable and does not upstand with our University’s values.”