Dozens of faculty members at Ohio University have come out in support of the student senate president who took a bold stand for justice in Palestine on 2 September and who has faced death threats and threats of rape since she videotaped herself pouring a bucket of fake blood over her head to protest Israel’s abuse of Palestinians.
Megan Marzec has been at the center of a targeted campaign by anti-Palestinian individuals, Zionist groups and Israel-aligned media calling for her resignation. The Ohio University administration has both criticized her action and refused to publicly condemn the threats against her.
“We are appalled by the death threats and other forms of intimidation that she has faced in response [to the video]. We are also disappointed in OU administrators and community members who have criticized her act but have not publicly defended her against this violent response,” the faculty letter states.
Supporting the boycott movement
Marzec was remixing the mainstream “ice bucket challenge” people have been doing to raise money for ALS medical research. She was nominated to do the ice bucket challenge by Ohio University’s president, Roderick McDavis, and she decided to subvert the meme, as Palestinians have done with their own “rubble bucket challenge,” and called for the end to Israel’s occupation and in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Two days later, Marzec said that she started receiving death threats and threats of rape included in “thousands of hate emails” to her personal email account and on social media.
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, which partners closely with the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter to the university administration on 10 September “explaining the university’s obligations to protect student speech critical of Israel” and defending Marzec’s action and free speech rights.
Listen to the interview with Megan Marzec via the player, or read the transcript below. The interview, conducted on 11 September, has been edited for length.
Megan Marzec: My name is Megan Marzec, I am president of Ohio University student senate. The second week of classes, I produced a video in response to the president of Ohio University, Roderick McDavis, challenging me to do the ALS bucket challenge, and when I received word, it seemed like really the only way I would respond to the ALS bucket challenge — which was to make a video in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. So I made a “blood bucket” video, which is, to my understanding, is a very common thing currently in the Palestinian liberation movement.
I made a statement of who I was, responding to the fact that I had been challenged by the [university] president as Ohio University student senate president, made a statement about the occupation of Palestine by Israel, and I made a call for divestment from Israel from Ohio University.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: And what was the immediate response from your community, other student senators, and then the broader media after that?
MM: It took about a day to really get any response. Keep in mind, I made this video just hoping that maybe one or two people would become interested in BDS on campus. So it took about a day for anything significant to happen. But quickly, the Zionist presence on campus began writing emails to the student senate, expressing distaste, and a misguided PR [public relations] member of student senate apologized on behalf of the student senate for my video — which then immediately linked the video and my personal political views to the student senate, and there was very quickly a national Zionist reaction.
So on Thursday, [4 September] the death threats started coming in; I received thousands of hate emails including death threats and rape threats, I was harassed on Facebook. On Thursday is when I disabled all social media. I should also say that on the day and the day after I had posted it, many of the people in my organizing community, social justice community, were reposting the video with enthusiasm. So the immediate response was very positive, and then the wider Zionist reaction is exactly in line with all Zionist reactions of anyone speaking out for Palestine.
On the Thursday following the Tuesday that I posted the video, I was called to meet with the executive vice president of the university, who is also the advisor for student senate. So we actually had a regular meeting scheduled, but when I came in, I was given a printout of an email of a death threat that was directed towards me and the president of the university, and was notified that criminal charges had already been pursued, and the protocol of this level of threat caused the Ohio University campus police to contact Homeland Security. So I was notified that Homeland Security was monitoring all hits of my name and the video on the Internet.
I was recommended to go into protective housing on campus, and to not walk alone, I was offered police escort, I was told to call immediately if any more threats were made.
In the days quickly after the video, there were immediate calls for my resignation. An overwhelming amount of calls for my resignation from local and international Zionist organizations, and just Zionists on their own behalf caling the university. The university president and vice president’s office was shut down for an entire day to field phone calls and emails from Zionists.
It’s very clear why the negative backlash has been really put in front of any support, because it’s very clear who has institutional power in this situation. We have a very highly-funded, supported by the university Zionist group called Hillel, which is in conjunction with Bobcats for Israel and [Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity], we’re talking a lot of money and institutional support — whereas it’s very clear that those who would speak in support of me or really in support of Palestinian or Arab students not only do not have organizations who support them, they are at huge risk for their lives — their visas, their return home safely.
So there was not any organized support for me that night, which going into the meeting did not seem so dangerous; but as the next week went on, the death threats came in, the rape threats, the extremely horrendous media coverage, extremely biased, a lot of false reporting — the Thursday that I received the majority of death threats, I was obviously talking with police, communicating with Homeland Security, et cetera, I was unable to talk to journalists all day. I went to our main student newspaper that night, showed the highly-conservative editor who edits and manages all coverage of student senate — we have our existing problems — I showed him the death threats. I was getting emails from Homeland Security while I was talking to him, I explained to him what I explained to you. The next day, all that was in the papers was a quote of me saying I’ve received death threats.
So it was very clear from the beginning that we was not going to get accurate media coverage. I got no public support from the university at all, no public concern for my safety, et cetera, which is to be expected. I have been organizing direct action against the administration since my freshman year here.