The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) commended Williams College President Maud Mandel and her administration today for overruling the student government and granting registered student organization (RSO) status to the Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI). WIFI – a student club whose mission is to “support Israel and the pro-Israel campus community” – had applied for RSO status, but the student-run College Council rejected the application, despite WIFI reportedly fulfilling all the application requirements.
After the rejection, President Mandel expressed “disappointment” in the College Council’s decision. She acknowledged that the College Council did not “follow its own processes and bylaws,” and admitted that the decision “was made on political grounds.” Yet President Mandel seemed to justify the status quo, stating that even without RSO status, WIFI could “still access all services available to student groups.”
The ZOA initially criticized President Mandel’s weak response, characterizing the rejection of WIFI as not merely political, but also anti-Semitic because it targeted and discriminated against the group because of its support for the Jewish state. Moreover, suggesting that WIFI settle for something less than what it was entitled to was insulting, the ZOA stated. In a letter to Williams College, the ZOA urged the administration to exercise its authority by overriding the College Council’s decision and recognizing WIFI as an RSO.
Morton A. Klein, the ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, applauded the administration’s recent decision to grant RSO status to WIFI: “The ZOA is pleased to see that President Mandel and her administration did the right thing and remedied the College Council’s astounding discrimination. Williams has shown that it is genuinely ‘committed to being a community in which all ranges of opinion and belief can be expressed and debated.’ And Williams’ new pro-Israel group will now truly have the same rights and privileges as every other registered student organization on the campus, which it unquestionably deserved.”