Union senator resigns
The Justice compiled a timeline of events leading to the resignation of the senator.
Editor's note: Justice Union Correspondent Max Feigelson '24 contributed to the reporting in this article.
A Brandeis Student Union senator resigned last week amid calls from members of the Brandeis student body. A video surfaced last December of the senator while they were in high school, waving an Israel flag in New York’s Grand Central Station as he and the crowd chanted “Nakba.” “Nakba” is an Arabic word that translates to catastrophe and refers to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.
Brandeis Student Union’s Judiciary first received the video from an alias named Jade Angelman on Dec. 8. The following day the committee responded to the email by explaining the requirements for filing a complaint. From Dec. 9 to Jan. 1, Angelman continued to email the Judiciary. On Jan. 4, the Judiciary explained that they were out of session and it may take some time for them to respond. On Jan. 27, the Judiciary re-sent a complaint template to Angelman and asked them to begin communicating through a Brandeis email. In order for the Judiciary to begin a formal process, there would need to be an official complaint filed, and a specific Brandeis student would need to be attached to it — not a pseudonym. There was no response from Angelman.
A representative of the Judiciary met with a member of the Dean of Students office in order to discuss how to best handle the video. After their discussion, it was decided that the senator couldn’t be held accountable because the video was filmed before the senator was a Brandeis student and before he was a member of the Student Union.
On Feb. 8, the Brandeis Students Justice for Palestine jointly organized a protest with Brandeis Leftist Union in response to the killing of Palestinian people earlier this year. Several students waved Israel flags and held signs in opposition to the protestors. Among those protesting on behalf of the Israel-supporting students was the senator. According to the Student Union, there is nothing that prevents Student Union members from engaging in protests as long as, if asked, they make it clear that they are not representing the Student Union.
Five days later on Feb. 13, a letter was released on the Instagram of the Brandeis Leftist Union. In the letter they address the fact that the Student Union senator who was present at the protest was featured in this video. The post went on to state, “We call on the University administration and Student Union to investigate and hold accountable the individual of whom there is video evidence praising Nakba.” This was the first public mention of the video by any group that is either officially or unofficially affiliated with Brandeis.
The following day, Feb. 14, SJP released an Instagram post titled “Student Union Represents All of Us.” The post explained how the Student Union senator had been filmed chanting “Nakba.” Unlike the BLU statement, the post included the video of the senator. In the version of the video released by SJP a black bar is covering the face of the senator. The post states “[Brandeis] Student Union was aware of these hateful actions, but they have done nothing. Their silence on this matter speaks volumes.”
As the video of the Student Union senator became more heavily discussed and led to calls on Student Union to take action, Student Union President Peyton Gillespie ’25, Vice President Nicholas Kanan ’23, Secretary Carol Kornworcel ’26, and Chief Justice Noah Risley ’24 made a joint decision to ask the Senator to resign. When initially asked, the Senator refused.
Six days later on Feb. 20, Brandeis Student Union released a statement via Instagram titled “In light of recent events.” The post explains that its goal was to provide more context to the situation after students called on Student Union to take action against the senator. “There was some back and forth over the next few days before we released our statement in an effort to respond to student concern and be transparent,” Gillespie said in a March 6 email to the Justice.
In the days following the Student Union statement, there were posts on Instagram and Sidechat criticizing the Student Union’s inability to remove the senator as well as some praising the Student Union for condemning the senator.
Five days after the Student Union’s initial post, their Instagram shared a flyer regarding an info session for upcoming Special Elections. Listed under “positions available” was the Senator’s position. During the info session, it was announced that the Senator had resigned. “I personally feel that it is never appropriate to use hateful language at any time or in any context. The student in question has made clear to senior members of the Student Union that they did not understand the meaning of the word at the time of the video and are working to educate themselves on this language,” Gillespie said.
The Senator declined to comment.