April 27, 2006

S.A. Faces Clash on Iran Bill

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The Student Assembly will be considering a highly contentious resolution today that aims to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear quest. The S.A.’s weekly meeting in the Straight Memorial Room today will likely serve as a medium for debate between students who have raised concerns that the resolution reaches beyond the powers of the assembly and others who support the bill.

The resolution, called Resolution 29, is modeled off the Iran Freedom Support Act that was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday and urges national leaders to support initiatives that apply greater pressure on Iran to stop its quest of nuclear weapons and sponsorship of terrorist organizations.

The Cornell Israel Public Affair Committee is a cosponsor of the bill but this has not stopped others from believing that the approval of Resolution 29 would put the S.A. members in a potentially controversial position.

Hannah Kern ’08, residential student congress liaison to the S.A. and vice president of the residential student congress, explained that candidates for S.A. are never asked about their political views during their election campaigns. Instead, they are asked how they will improve parking, dining and funding activities. This resolution, however, allows them to exercise political beliefs.

“This resolution could set a precedent in the [S.A.] that would make room for this body to address other political issues,” Kern said. “In addition, the Student Assembly Charter states that the S.A. should be involved on-campus endeavors for the well-being of the students. Engaging in politics, I feel, does not lay within the scope of the S.A.”

Kevin Boroumand ’08, member of the Iranian Students Organization, agrees with Kern, believing that Resolution 29 comes from the wrong forum.

“For two years I have been voting for S.A. representatives on the basis of what they will do for the campus. I am yet to meet the person who picked S.A. candidates on the basis of [their] foreign policy stance,” Boroumand said.

Sarah Boxer ’07, S.A. vice president of Public Relations, as well as CIPAC’s vice president, denies that this resolution goes beyond of the S.A.’s responsibilities. According to Boxer, the S.A. charter contains three specific sections outlining why Resolution 29 does not cross boundaries.

“The S.A. has every right to be involved with any issue of concern,” Boxer said. “Everything that [Resolution 29] is trying to do is making recommendations. It says that it urges the Congress. It certainly is not mandating anyone to do something.”

Boxer first learned about the bill at a CIPAC meeting. Since then the resolution has received support from a variety of sources; over 30 presidents of Cornell sororities and fraternities signed a letter from the committee, urging the student body to be more aware of the issue. In addition, the resolution received support from both Paul Ibrahim ’06, president of the College Republicans, and Mitch Fagen ’06, president of the Cornell Democrats.

While the bill has received bipartisan support, Boroumand remains opposed to it.

“One clause basically states that Cornell students give their government a blank check to prevent Iranian nuclear proliferation. I don’t support that if U.S. policy is to fight nuclear proliferation with nuclear weapons – an initiative that Washington admits it is still considering,” Boroumand said.

Beyond being opposed to its terms, Boroumand and others opposed to the bill believe that although Resolution 29 claims to reflect the diversity of thoughts and opinions towards Iran that exist in Cornell, it does not actually do so. Boroumand also pointed out that the resolution aims at singling out Iran and ignores other countries who pose military and economic threats to the U.S., such as China and India. In doing so, it risks making members of the Arab, Muslim, and Iranian communities on campus feel unwelcome.

“Just consider the students of Iranian heritage on campus. In their name, the S.A. wants to tell Washington, ‘Hey it’s O.K. If you use tactical nukes against Iran, because it’s a current initiative being considered, and one that hasn’t been ruled out for the future,'” Boroumand said.

Justin Weitz, president of CIPAC, believes that opponents, such as Boroumand have misunderstood the goal of the resolution and urges them to read it more closely.

“This resolution is an important declaration of the S.A.’s opposition to Iran’s pursuit of these weapons in defiance of international law,” Weitz said. “I believe it is imperative that Cornell students, as represented by their elected leadership, take a strong stand against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Holocaust denial.”

Those against the resolution will be wearing red t-shirts today when the S.A. gathers to vote on the matter.

Archived article by Blair Robin
Sun Staff Writer