At a session of the USG Senate held Sunday evening, Samson Schatz ’13 lodged an appeal on the basis that the referendum slated to appear on this week’s ballot did not match the original wording of the petition presented for student signatures by the Princeton Committee on Palestine.
The senate voted with a necessary two-thirds majority to uphold the appeal, which barred the revised wording from appearing on the ballot. PCP had the option to have the original wording appear but instead chose to withdraw the referendum and submit a petition for a new referendum with the revised wording to be voted on next week.
The referendum that appeared on the original petition, which had the support of 200 undergraduates, read: “The USG will make a formal recommendation to University Dining Services on behalf of the undergraduate student body to stop selling Sabra hummus, on the condition that Princeton offers an alternative hummus.”
Karen Campion ’11, a vice president of PCP, said the change made to the wording was intended to clarify the language of the original petition. “The language we changed the referendum to was what most people understood when signing it, and we wanted everyone voting to be clear on this as well,” she explained.
The revised wording of the referendum reads: “On behalf of the student body, the USG will make a formal recommendation to University Dining Services that it offer an alternative to Sabra hummus in all University retail locations.”
Schatz said he appealed because the revised wording rendered the intent of the referendum unclear. Though he is a vice president of Tigers for Israel, Schatz said he made the appeal as an individual.
“The original referendum, the one that was signed by the students, used the word ‘stop the sale,’ and it encouraged the University to stop selling Sabra hummus,” he said. “The referendum that was going to be on the ballot said ‘offer alternatives,’ and there is a clear difference between the two.”
Schatz also said that he thought the revised language was unclear as to whether Sabra hummus was to be replaced altogether or sold alongside an alternative brand.
Campion explained that while PCP is still calling on individual students to boycott Sabra hummus, the revised referendum is not intended to call for the University to stop selling Sabra hummus.
The USG constitution states that referenda concurrent with USG elections require the submission of a petition with the support of 200 undergraduates or a one-third vote of the Senate to be placed on the ballot of the nearest upcoming USG election.
A referendum placed on a separate ballot that falls outside a USG election requires either a two-thirds vote from the Senate or a petition with the support of 500 undergraduates.
Assuming the submission of a new petition with 200 supporters, the revised referendum will appear on a ballot next week regardless of whether any runoff voting will be held, USG president Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 said in an e-mail.
“The senate agreed that we can consider a petition received by Friday at noon concurrent with this election and subject to the 200 signature requirement of the constitution,” Yaroshefsky said.
“Regardless if other circumstances necessitating a runoff, if the petition is delivered by the deadline and is acceptable to the elections managers, there will be a ballot the following Monday with the referendum presented by the petitioners,” he added.
PCP sponsored the referendum because The Strauss Group, which owns 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company, provided care packages and financial support to the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces. The Golani Brigade has been accused of human rights violations in the West Bank.
TFI opposed both the original referendum and the revised wording of the referendum in a Nov. 19 statement on a Facebook event page. Schatz said in an e-mail that he will recommend to TFI “that we continue to oppose next week’s referendum because it targets Sabra hummus specifically on the basis of their relationship with the Golani Brigade and because there are a plethora of companies that hold monopolies on products sold in campus stores.”
He added, however, that he will not “actively oppose” the new referendum “as it is no longer a boycott and I am not opposed to offering students more variety.”
Campion questioned the timing of the appeal, which she said was made at the last minute. However, this was the first meeting of the USG Senate since PCP submitted their petition to the USG on Nov. 17.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2010/11/22/26987/