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Silencing Support: I’m a Student Body President, and I’ve Been Targeted for My Outreach to Jewish Students

These experiences have taught me that facing harassment, intimidation, and social isolation can be the consequence of holding an unpopular opinion.
[additional-authors]
May 15, 2024
Photo by Samuel Chacko

When I began my term as student body president at Cal State Long Beach in June 2023, I aimed to ensure every voice was heard and represented, drawing from my own experience immigrating from India at the age of 14 and understanding the importance of having one’s voice heard.

I took an oath of office to prioritize the needs of the students, aligning with the mission and values of Associated Students Inc. (ASI), where I became the President/CEO. Unfortunately, most members of ASI Senate and the Senate board chair failed to uphold this mission. Despite their previous impartiality and commitment to “Keeping the Students First,” they neglected to consider all perspectives and protect all students. 

Amid the distressing events unfolding in Israel on October 7th, a student group named La Fuerza organized a rally on our campus that seemed to express support for the attack on Israel, as evidenced by heinous flyers featuring paragliders. Upon learning about the situation, I collaborated with student leaders to draft a neutral statement aimed at fostering safety and support for all students. On the day of the protest, I dedicated my time at the Beach Hillel Center, providing support and reassurance to students.

The following ASI Senate meeting, La Fuerza expressed dissatisfaction with the perceived lack of support for their demonstration and criticized the university president’s email communications. Meanwhile, Beach Hillel raised concerns about the use of paragliding images by La Fuerza on campus and voiced worries about safety. 

During this time, I noticed a troubling increase in biased attitudes among the majority of ASI Senate members. As biases increased in ASI, I felt marginalized for being the sole non-Jewish ASI student supporting the Jewish community. Despite no direct confrontations, I observed ASI members actively avoiding and disengaging from me.

Fall semester passed without any of the student leaders confronting me. Then, in the spring semester, on March 20, 2024, a seemingly coordinated group of students attended the ASI Senate meeting, demanding my recall, citing my perceived absence at their cultural center. 

One of the students was from La Fuerza, along with a representative from another club, alleged that I had affiliations with repressive organizations that harassed campus cultural organizations, thus advocating for my recall. 

I was taken aback when presented with a vote of no confidence, which would be the basis of recall. Throughout my tenure, I dedicated myself to fulfilling campaign promises, such as implementing a TAP card program for students in need of transportation assistance, advocating for undocumented students, supporting increased Pell and Cal Grant, and endorsing various state bills.

This pattern of derogatory remarks persisted into the subsequent ASI Senate meeting on March 27, 2024. However, amidst these negative comments, members from Beach Hillel came forward to express their support for me. They affirmed that I had provided assistance and fostered a sense of belonging for Jewish students on campus. 

Additionally, a member of the Lebanese Student Association, representing a nationality currently in active conflict with Israel, voiced their support for me. They highlighted my involvement in inclusive events and emphasized that previous comments made against me were personal, biased, and untrue.

On March 29, 2024, an Instagram post surfaced on an anonymous account, previously associated with La Fuerza. The post referred to me as a “grifter” and included a photo of me alongside Jewish students on campus.

As student body president, it’s imperative for me to remain impartial. Our ASI voted to call for a ceasefire resolution during the CSSA meeting, reflecting the majority sentiment among students. 

Advocating for a ceasefire does not diminish our support for Jewish students on campus, nor does it suggest tolerance for antisemitism or lack of support from student government members. The Instagram post seems to be an attempt by La Fuerza and ASI Senators to undermine my relationship with the Jewish community by sharing a photo of me without consent.

Despite repeatedly expressing my concerns to the ASI Senate board chair about the perceived unfairness, my pleas were ignored, with the chair claiming to share the sentiments of the students.

After the unauthorized photograph, I felt increasingly vulnerable. Despite repeatedly expressing my concerns to the ASI Senate board chair about the perceived unfairness, my pleas were ignored, with the chair claiming to share the sentiments of the students.

Despite my efforts to address the situation, the ASI Senate Board persisted in their pursuit of my removal, with only one month remaining in my term. The disregard for my viewpoint and the hostile environment created around me contradicts the principles of SR 2020-16, highlighting a lack of accountability and deviation from stated values.

This was my first encounter with antisemitism and it’s puzzling that groups like La Fuerza, vocal against social injustice, are also among its biggest perpetrators. 

These experiences have taught me that facing harassment, intimidation, and social isolation can be the consequence of holding an unpopular opinion. No student should have to endure such treatment. As a result, I am now more determined than ever to advocate for communities that are underrepresented throughout my academic journey and are subject to harassment.


Mitali Jain serves as student body president for 2023-2024 at Cal State Long Beach, majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. 

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