Name: Jesse Arm
Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI
Position on student government: Representative from LSA
Her Campus: The Michigan Daily recently wrote an article on you. Can you tell us what prompted this article?
Jesse Arm: In short, a pro-Palestinian student group, called SAFE, implored CSG to launch an Ethics Committee investigation against me because of my public opposition to an inflammatory protest they put on in the Diag on November 19th. That protest took place hours after Palestinian terrorists had killed three Israelis, a Palestinian man, and an 18-year-old American Jewish student from Boston studying abroad in Israel. I challenged the taste, timing, and appropriateness of the display to the protesters They stood costumed as Israeli soldiers accosting Palestinians next to a massive wall constructed with images of a dove being targeted by a sniper, Arabic writing across the entire map of Israel, a Palestinian flag, and the phrase, “TO EXIST IS TO RESIST” written in big red letters. The Ethics Committee unanimously found me not guilty on account of any unethical behavior and stated, “While Representatives of the Assembly do represent all of their constituents we do not shed our own personal opinions and beliefs when we decide to run for office. Representative Arm has the right to engage in discourse.”
HC: What motivated your actions?
JA: I felt as though these protestors had used a location that should serve as a safe space for all UM students with a protest that left many students feeling marginalized and targeted by a misrepresentation of their culture. As one such student, I decided to speak up and challenge back. My actions came from my own place of hurt and that of a sizable portion of my constituency’s. I am saddened that my office was called into question by virtue of my opposition to a purposefully incendiary protest.
HC: How did the school respond?
JA: The school has yet to make any public statement on the matter. However, some people in the administration were kind to me as this story picked up steam in the international media, and I became bombarded with e-mails and social media contact from supporters, detractors, reporters, and others.
HC: Do you think it’s important for everyone to voice their opinions on campus?
JA: Yes. I am a fervent believer in political pluralism and freedom of speech. It is impossible that all members of Central Student Government will please all students all of the time. Some students will inevitably disagree with us and even disdain us for the decisions we make and the votes we take. The same is true of all democratically elected officials across the world. To suggest that I am not suited to be a member of Michigan’s Central Student Government because of my public opposition to SAFE’s protest on the Diag would be to undermine the core principles of democracy and pluralism, on which our nation was founded and our University rooted. The implications that a student representative must either shed all ideas or stop expressing them is foreign to the underpinnings of a free democracy.
HC: How should the school go about addressing and dealing with diverse and controversial opinions around campus?
JA: The school should ensure that all students have unabridged free speech rights and that students cannot be punished for speaking their minds openly.
The opinions presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Her Campus U Mich staff.