“Ceasefire Now!” officially dead, senate ends with march through Graham Center

Students from YDSA waiting at the beginning of senate to see if SGA would kill "Ceasefire Now!" | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Elise Catrion Gregg | Editor-in-Chief

After countless contentious senate meetings, rounds of edits to the resolution and debate from numerous students, “Ceasefire Now!” is officially dead.

It’s been months since the first version of the resolution was introduced, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and for the university administration to condemn any human rights violations, call Israel’s actions in Gaza a genocide and divest from “corporations and weapons manufacturers which profit from arming the Israeli Defense Forces.” 

After the resolution died in committee, it seemed that everything starting from the fall pressurized to this point: voting to revive “Ceasefire Now!” and allow the senate to vote on it.

Senators could have voted to bring the resolution to the senate floor last week, but failure to meet quorum pushed the vote the Feb. 5. As the very first item under new business on the agenda, the resolution had two possible futures. 

A vote to discharge the resolution to the senate floor would allow senators to directly vote on whether or not to pass it – “Ceasefire Now!” would not have to go back to committee. 

A vote no would kill it for good, unable to pass until the next legislative session. Any pieces of legislation designed with a similar purpose would have to be substantially different. 

Nine invited speakers spoke at the start of the meeting, all on “Ceasefire Now!”. Several other individuals spoke during public forum, also all speaking on the controversial resolution.

Students discussed seemingly everything, from the actual conflict to student safety on campus to the resolution itself. 

Hillel student Jason Jefferies speaks during public forum, directing his address to proponents of the resolution. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

“We believe that this genocide is one of the greatest injustices of our lifetimes: to stay silent is just not an option,” said YDSA vice president Joselyn Pena. “This resolution will not end the genocide in Gaza, but if it is passed, we will become the first university in the state of Florida to call for a ceasefire.” 

“And what better place to do that than Florida International University?”

YDSA’s communications director, Pedro Andres Rodriguez, addresses senators and the public during public forum. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

The pre-discharge process provided insight into why the resolution died in committee to begin with: senator Brochinsky, chair of the committee that struck it down, listed a few reasons. 

Alleged misinformation in the text, risk of libel suits and contradictions against memos from the Board of Governors were the main points. 

“The main point, one of the really big ones that was brought up, was the call on the FIU administration to not threaten Students for Justice for Palestine, which directly is opposed to an active memorandum sent down by the Florida Board of Governors,” said Brochinsky in senate. 

Authors argued against that, saying that as a resolution and not a bill, “Ceasefire Now!” would not lead to tangible action that directly defied the BOG memo. Further, they argued that the misinformation was based on a mistranslation of a statement by an Israeli official regarding IDF and Hamas fighting tactics. 

“In regards to the point about libel, the authors of this resolution are very reasonable,” said  College of Arts, Science and Education senator Daniel Salup-Cid. “If you look at the resolution, you will see that the concern about libel was amended.” 

The discharge vote, initiated by Salup-Cid, meant that senators could later vote on whether to pass the resolution with a later vote.

Senator Daniel Salup-Cid reads part of the “Ceasefire Now!” resolution to the senate. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

“Many of my colleagues believe that SGA is an apolitical function to comment on geopolitics,” Salup-Cid said during the debate on the resolution’s discharge. “SGA is not an apolitical body. It’s a Democratic representative body and it is our duty to sit down and listen to the concerns of our constituents, no matter whether you disagree with them or not.” 

Senators went back on forth arguing about the resolution, how FIU best serves its purpose as an international university, and whether or not SGA should address issues related to politics beyond the university.

It’s all been said before in meetings dating back to the middle of last fall. This time, it all led to a final, decisive vote. 

The room was tense the entire meeting, but the atmosphere in the room during the discharge vote was markedly strained. 

Voting took longer than usual, with some technical issues in calling roll – senate went old school, with senators having to handwrite and count votes.

Several senators opted to abstain from voting. Many of the names called were followed with silence. Votes of “yea” to discharge were often followed by snaps of applause from proponents of the resolution. 

The tally revealed a dead resolution. 

Senate President Kaily Lachapelle calling results, and YDSA calling for senators to be voted out. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

As soon as the results were called, members of YDSA ended the meeting with cries of “Vote them Out!” and were led out of the chamber by university police. 

They marched through the Graham Center, ending up on the lawns outside, with cries to “Shut it Down!”

YDSA members marching out of the senate chamber into the Graham Center | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

“How are we supposed to be grateful when our country is on the wrong side of history?” YDSA President Oscar Alvarez said to YDSA members outside GC. “We must find candidates willing to push back on the institution!” 

Students marching out the chamber through the Graham Center protesting the death of “Ceasfire Now!” | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

In an interview with PantherNOW, Salup-Cid said he was severely disappointed in his colleagues.

“For people in support, we had more than 650 people signed onto the petition in support,” Salup-Cid said, saying he disagreed with senators who believed there was equal support for and against.

“I’d also like to thank the colleagues of mine that voted yes — I applaud them for listening to the people who came out; a yes vote wasn’t easy.”

Judith Chavarria, YDSA member and one of the authors of the bill, also told PantherNOW that there will be a walkout on Thursday on the GC Lawns at 12:30 by YDSA and Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU, signaling support for Palestinian liberation and a ceasefire.

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