Arab American Heritage Month effort fails at FSU

Photo courtesy: Cynthia Frage

Renee Souvenir, a Florida State University Student Government Association senator, proposed that FSU recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month (Resolution 49) during their weekly Senate meetings.

The Senate meets every Wednesday monthly during the spring semester to vote on proposals and other matters submitted by its committees and constituents.

On April 3, Souvenir proposed Resolution 49. Souvenir crafted this resolution to acknowledge April as Arab American Heritage Month; the resolution also included a clause expressing mourning for the Palestinian death toll and advocated for a cease-fire.

The Senate has passed similar legislation which recognizes Black History Month, Hispanic History Month, and Womens History Month,” Souvenir said. I dont see why we wouldnt do the same for AAHM, especially considering the current and extreme violence Arabs of Palestine are facing as we speak.”

Resolution 49 was on first reading, meaning it would have to go through a committee before it could be heard on the Senate floor. Since the semester is ending, Souvenir noticed that she would need to push for it to be heard sooner.

Due to time sensitivity I motioned to move it to second reading so I could share it on the floor for it to be voted on. Before I could argue why, a senator moved to call a vote on the motion and the motion failed. I must wait two weeks before my resolution will be heard in student life. April will practically be over,” Souvenir said.

That following Wednesday, April 11, Souvenir tried again to move the legislation to a second reading. Resolution 49 was heard on the floor but failed with a 36-18.

This has led the FSU students to believe that the resolution failed due to the Jewish Student Union being a part of SGA. According to the JSU members, this resolution made them feel forced to pick a side.”

This has made it clear that they arent about unity and being on the same agenda,” said Ahmad Daraldik, the 2020 president of the FSU Student Senate. He was open about his Palestinian upbringing. This led to him becoming the focus of a harassment campaign across the state, with Florida legislators even calling for his removal and threatening to withhold funds from FSU.

In April 2021, Ahmad made history by filing the first complaint ever alleging discrimination against Palestinians under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This past Thursday, Souvenir submitted a statement of dissent, which will be read aloud on the Senate floor during their Senate meeting next week. This statement points out the alleged violations made during Souvenirs proposal.

Many other senators have said they plan to push for this resolution after Souvenir claimed to make it more inclusive.”

Our biggest mission is to ensure that as a community in Tallahassee, we educate these legislatures and hold them accountable,” Daraldik said.