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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Polarized response to resolution was inflated

Editor,

The story titled “GPSA divestment resolution polarizes students” that appeared in the Daily Lobo’s April 28 issue is emblematic of egregious reporting by the Daily Lobo.

For one, the resolution passed with 10 votes in favor of it and nine votes against it while one person abstained. It is true that the voting on the resolution was preceded by some discussion, but isn’t this how democracy works? It is true that there were some representatives who were hesitant to vote on the resolution, but they were outnumbered by those who took a stand against human rights abuses.

Instead of foregrounding this fact, the reporting falsely suggests a polarization when the voting pattern is, in fact, suggestive of the growing concerns about companies that are implicated in human rights violations not just in Israel but across the world.

Additionally, there are other parts of the report that I find disconcerting. As a former journalism instructor, I have insisted that journalists try to present reality in all its complexity rather than resort to the “every-story-has-only-two-sides” format.

Unfortunately, this lesson has been lost on the Daily Lobo. Instead of speaking to the diverse coalition of students — including Students for Justice in Palestine, Students Organizing Actions for Peace, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan, the UNM Dream Team, the Men of Color Alliance, the Muslim Student Association, the Fair Trade Initiative, the Black Student Union and the UNM Arabic Language Club — to find out their interest in working hard to get this resolution passed, the report unfortunately spends more time talking to Sarah Abonyi from Lobos for Israel to get her side of the story. It also ignores the representative from the Jewish Voice for Peace, who made a powerful case to support the resolution.

While I appreciate the need to include an opposing viewpoint, why is it that the story dedicates an inordinate amount of time and space to Abonyi? What about the other members of the coalition who were present at the meeting and made a passionate case for supporting the resolution by highlighting the ways in which their own struggles were entangled with those of the Palestinians fighting the occupation? Why is it that the reporter ignored them while consciously seeking out Abonyi’s reactions?

Nothing can explain this oversight other than the fact that the Daily Lobo believes that the BDS resolution has only two sides to it while, in fact, this is an issue that spans across continents. Corporations such as G4S profit off of security regimes that operate in both hemispheres. If the reporter had paid any attention, she would have realized that a lot of the people who spoke in favor of the resolution were, in fact, not doing so for ideological reasons but had real investments in seeing it passed.

Santhosh Chandrashekar

UNM graduate student