(JTA) — An Ohio University Student Senate meeting erupted into a chaotic scene and four students were arrested over protests of the Senate president’s “blood bucket challenge” of Israel.
At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Student Senate, pro-Israel students staged a filibuster and called for the resignation of Megan Marzec over her Sept. 2 video in which she poured a bucket of fake blood (red-colored water) over her head to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Marzec’s video, which was posted in response to an ALS ice bucket challenge issued by the university president, has sparked widespread controversy on the campus and off.
In the video, Marzec spoke in her capacity as Student Senate president and accused Israel of “genocide in Gaza.” The Ohio University Student Senate Twitter account subsequently apologized for the video.
The video has been criticized both for its critique of Israel and Marzec’s divisive stance as a student body leader. Marzec reported receiving hostile messages and death threats. Others praised Marzec for speaking her beliefs.
The Student Senate protest began at the start of the session with Rebecca Sebo, the president of Bobcats for Israel, denouncing the threats made against Marzec before calling on her to resign. After approximately three minutes, according to the student paper, the Post Athens, Marzec called on Sebo to stop so that students could speak in an orderly fashion. Sebo and other protesters continued to speak, however.
Marzec shouted for order and threatened to have the protesters arrested. Other students and adults at the meeting clapped and chanted over the protesters, with some denouncing them as “fascists.”
Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, the executive director of Hillel at Ohio University, was present and said the atmosphere became “explosive.”
Marzec issued a vote to have the protesters arrested for disrupting the meeting. University police issued the protesters a two-minute warning, then arrested them and led them from the meeting.
At the police station, the students were charged with disruption of a lawful meeting and released. On Thursday morning, their court date was set for the morning of Sept. 24, the day before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Leshaw said that although she didn’t think the protesters should have been arrested, the police “acted beautifully” and their presence helped prevent a hostile situation from spiraling out of control.
“I think it was actually a blessing that the police arrived,” she told JTA.
After the arrests, Marzec stood on a table and declared that she would “never apologize for the people of Palestine.”
She added, “And I will never stand up for fascists. And this body won’t either.”