All you eager consumers of this savory garbanzo/tahini union, know this: you might not be voting on the fate of Princeton hummus today. After an appeal on Sunday night, the PCP’s referendum may not appear on Monday as originally planned.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick recap of The Great Hummus Debacle of 2010:
Currently, the only hummus served on campus is an American brand called Sabra, partially owned by the Israel-based Strauss Group. The Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) has claimed that Strauss Group is propagating human rights violations because they support the Israeli military. PCP created a petition for their cause and got over 200 student signatures — the amount required to get a referendum onto the USG ballot, where the entire student body can vote on it. The PCP’s referendum insisted that the USG issue a formal recommendation to Dining Services, asking them to provide alternative hummus options. It was cleared to appear on tomorrow’s ballot.
In the first-ever appeal of a USG referendum, Samson Schatz ’13 contended that the referendum was no longer valid because it used different language than the initial petition, thus violating the “democratic process.” At a Sunday night USG meeting, he pointed out that PCP had rephrased their proposal in between getting the signatures and sending it to USG for inclusion on the ballot. Apparently the petition proposed an boycott of Sabra hummus; the referendum did not explicitly demand a boycott, but instead called for for more hummus options on campus. “So you have these two statements where one said that the aim is to stop the sale of Sabra hummus, and you have the actual ballot which says nothing of the sort — it says offer alternatives,” he said. Focusing on this discrepancy, he hoped to nullify the referendum because it did precisely convey the opinions of the original 200 signatories. Although Schatz acknowledged he was vice president of Tigers for Israel, he said that his objection was purely technical and not at all political.
Yoel Bitran ’11, president of PCP, said that he was never made aware of these “rigorous” standards of wording. “We had no indication that the same exact language had to be in one and in the other,” he said. Bitran also noted that PCP had submitted their proposal well ahead of time, and would have had time to get 200 signatures on the revised wording had they been informed of the issue. He made clear that PCP had a two-pronged campaign: they are appealing to students to personally boycott Sabra hummus, and (through the referendum) they are appealing to Dining Services “explicitly and exclusively” to supply other hummus options. These two motions, he clarified, are completely independent of one another.
The Senate questioned both Schatz and Bitran before entering their discussion. One senator mentioned that the tone of the two phrasings was different. Another said that anyone who would have signed the petition would have logically signed the revised version, which is in a sense a weaker formulation of the original: “boycott Sabra brand” vs. “provide alternatives to Sabra brand.”
After a discussion, the Senate voted: the appeal passed. According to an email from USG president Mike Yaroshefsky, PCP has two options:
1. Keep the referendum on tomorrow’s ballot, using the original wording of the petition (the one that demanded a Sabra boycott).
2. Get 200 signatures on the rephrased version by Friday at noon. If they do so, that referendum will appear on another ballot next week.
It is currently unclear what option they will choose. Check back for updates. Either way, you late-mealers will get your Sabra; the only question is whether or not it will be competing with other hummuses. (Well, that was not entirely truthful. There is another question, which is whether “hummuses” is an actual word.)
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly described Sabra as an Israeli brand; Sabra is an American brand partially owned by the Israel-based Strauss Group.