Winning On Campus, But At What Cost?

What do you call someone who panics at the mention or sight of the words “free,” “human rights,” “resolution,” “divest,” as well as the colors maroon and gold? A Jewish University of Minnesota student fresh out of a BDS experience. Sure, not everyone necessarily feels the same as I do. But judging by some conversations, quite a few students do.

For anyone behind on the news, BDS came to the Minnesota Student Association (the undergraduate student government) twice over the course of almost two months. The second time, on April 12, a potential BDS bill was amended off the floor to strike any language targeting specific companies and countries, and so a divestment resolution passed in almost flying colors as both the BDS and pro-Israel communities rejoiced. Add “comedic irony” to the list of panic words.

In a world where mental health is a rising topic, somehow Jewish students got passed over. I wasn’t the only one to spend a sleepless night the Monday evening I found out that UMN Divest, the on-campus BDS coalition, launched with a ready resolution. Others spent sleepless weeks rallying the Jewish community into UMN United to oppose the resolution. Some woke up early to terrified thoughts of BDS. While I don’t have access to anyone’s records other than my own, a fair bet can be placed that academic performance wasn’t so good. Mine fell apart, and to see the look in the eyes of the majority of Jews on campus every day full of a resilient stress, anger, and an occasional want to cry didn’t help bolster the whole college experience either.

I can keep going with stories about how some students were too afraid to go near the Coffman Student Union during Israel Apartheid Week, but I think the point is made. When I want to throw every chair I see and friends tell me that I walk around with a look on my face like I’m about to cry any second, it can be concluded that BDS really does make Jews on college campuses feel targeted. UMN Divest even had nice shirts designed in maroon and gold. So that explains why anything with a similar decal doesn’t go over too well.

After BDS failed (or passed, depending on what side you’re on), things are better. The ball and chain is mostly forgotten, and almost two weeks later I can finally read “Free Pillsbury Treats” scrawled on the sidewalk near the dorms without a flight-or-fight response. Sadly though, with Passover, I still don’t get any.

Just shows you how far the BDS conspiracy goes: Refusing to even let Jews have free Pillsbury treats!

That is, of course, a joke. New Jewish humor for a new Jewish problem, yes? It makes looking everyone in the eyes a little bit easier. Shout out to all of SSI and everyone involved in UMN United for moving heaven and earth for the Jewish community. I wouldn’t be laughing without them.

Lev is a freshman at the University of Minnesota, currently studying for a Biology degree. Born and raised in Plymouth, Minn., he’s used to the quiet suburb life while harboring a passion for the big city. Without planning, the Jewish community at the U sucked him in and now he is a brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a member of the Chabad Board, involved in SSI, and almost always at Hillel for various reasons. Always looking for a nice Russian-speaking Jewish girl and guitar gear to join in the endeavor to be as loud as possible.