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Duke University pro-Israel group denied recognition by student government, admin overrules

The Duke University administration will provide support to a pro-Israel student organization originally denied official recognition by the student government.

In a statement released by Duke University President Vincent E. Price and Provost Sally Kornbluth Nov. 24, the two said the university has found ways for the group to receive financial and program support without formal recognition by the student government.

“The university has identified options for SSI to secure financial and programmatic support,” the statement says, referring to Students Supporting Israel.

The statement also made clear that the decision to deny the SSI chapter formal recognition is “independent of” the university.

DUKE UNIVERSITY SGA PRESIDENT REJECTS PRO-ISRAEL GROUP OVER ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ INSTAGRAM POST

This Jan. 28, 2019 file photo shows the entrance to the main Duke University campus in Durham, N.C.

This Jan. 28, 2019 file photo shows the entrance to the main Duke University campus in Durham, N.C.
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

“To be clear, the actions of Duke Student Government are independent of, and not determined by or sanctioned by, the university,” the administration’s statement added.

Additionally, the Duke University Office of Institutional Equity and the Office of Conduct and Community Standards is reviewing the Duke Student Government’s decision to determine if students were discriminated against based on national origin and religion.

The Duke Student Government senate originally approved the Students Supporting Israel group as a registered student organization on Nov. 10. But student government President Christina Wang vetoed it, stating the group “singled out” a student on social media.

Israel's flag with a view of old city Jerusalem.

Israel’s flag with a view of old city Jerusalem.

Wang claimed that Students Supporting Israel “singled out an individual student on their organization’s social media account in a way that was unacceptable for any student group and appeared antithetical to the group’s stated mission to be welcoming and inclusive to all Duke students and educational in mission and purpose,” according to the Duke Chronicle.

On Nov. 13, following the Duke Student Government senate approving the Students Supporting Israel group, one student tweeted, “My school promotes settler colonialism.”

In a now-deleted post, the Students Supporting Israel Instagram account responded to the student and explained why they view her opinion as incorrect.

“To Yana and others like her, please allow us to educate you on what ‘settler colonialism’ actually is and why Israel does not fall under this category whatsoever,” the group said. “These types of false narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn.”

The Western Wall and golden Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City. 

The Western Wall and golden Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City. 
(AP)

Ilan Sinelnikov, the president of Students Supporting Israel, told Fox News Duke’s statement is a step in the right direction but further action is necessary.

“It is important for the university to understand that the SSI chapter should not have a ‘separate but equal status,'” Sinelnikov said. “While the resources will be provided for SSI on campus, we still seek the administration to get involved and reverse the unjust decision made by the student government that cancelled SSI due to our speech and to register SSI as a club on campus just like any other club. SSI isn’t looking to have special status on campus. We look to be treated just like any other club, and the university has the power to do so.”

Adam Sabes is a writer at Fox News. You can reach him at Adam.Sabes@fox.com.

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