UMN student body votes “yes” to both referendums, elect student government leadership

All unopposed presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the Minnesota Student Association, the Council of Graduate Students and the Professional Student Government Associations won their elections.

by Farrah Mina, Campus Activities Editor

The University’s Campus Elections Team announced all-campus election results for several referendums and student government leadership positions Monday.

Student referendum

University of Minnesota students voted in favor of two referendums calling on the University to disclose its fossil fuel investments and adopt a definition of antisemitism. Referendums are non-binding but rather express an opinion of the University’s student population when passed. In a bill sponsored by UMN Climate Strike, 93% of students voted for the University to disclose all of its investments and endowment holdings in fossil fuel companies. Last year, two referendums calling on the University to divest from fossil fuels and declare a climate emergency passed, with both receiving more than 80% of the vote.

The referendum to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism received 58% of the vote.
The definition establishes antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The definition has received criticism from University students and faculty, as well as national organizations, who have expressed concerns about the suppression of free speech, especially the voices of Palestinians, to criticize Israel. According to the IHRA definition, an example of antisemitism could be “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

The student body of the University of Minnesota also elected new leadership for the campus’ student governments for the 2021-2022 academic year. All candidates ran unopposed.

Minnesota Student Association

Abdulaziz Mohamed and Samiat Ajibola, who ran for undergraduate student body president and vice president respectively, won the Minnesota Student Association elections. The pair received the majority of the votes, with the exception of eight write-in ballots.

Mohamed and Ajibola have said that they would prioritize mental health initiatives and address student food and housing insecurity. They have also advocated for the demilitarization of the University of Minnesota Police Department, along with the creation of a civilian police accountability council.

Graduate and professional student government

Also running unopposed were the candidates for president and vice president of the Council of Graduate Students: Rielle Perttu Swanson and Federico Facciolo. Both took the majority of the votes. The same was true for U.J. Bhowmik and Victoria Anderson, who won the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, for Professional Student Government.