ALS Challenge Used for Politics

Like thousands of other teenagers, Ohio State University student senate president Megan Marzec completed the ALS ice bucket challenge. But Marzec added a twist. There was no ice in her bucket. There was no water in her bucket.  Just “blood.”

On September 2, Marzec put her own spin on the ALS ice bucket challenge that was issued to her by the president of the university, Roderick McDavis. Instead of raising awareness for the disease that the challenge was originally started for, Marzec saw the challenge as a chance to spread a political message. In her video, Marzec dumped a bucket of water, tomato juice and red paint, or “blood,” on herself, saying, “As student senate president, I’m sending a message of student concern of the genocide in Gaza and the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli state. […] This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians, atrocities that which [Ohio University] is directly complacent in.”

While I cannot deny that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the mode that Marzec used to convey her message was not only inappropriate but also very disrespectful. The ice bucket challenge has been used to bring the horrors of ALS to public attention to spread awareness and raise funds for ALS research. And it was a success. According to the ALS Association’s website, as of Sept., they have received $109.8 million in ice bucket donations. The fact that Marzec deemed it appropriate to disclose her opinion via this challenge disgraces what the ice bucket challenge stands for.

Not only was Marzec’s method extreme, but it only ended up backfiring. As someone who grew up in a Jewish home and attended Hebrew schools and camps, I have been taught to be proud of Israel and to support its endeavors. That does not mean, however, that I agree with everything that Israel has done. Despite the fact that Hamas has been barraging Israel with rockets since withdrawal from the territory in 2005 and that Hamas has housed its rockets in schools and hospitals, there have been too many civilian casualties in the most recent conflict between Hamas and Israel. (Although Hamas has been barraging Israel with rockets since 2005 and housing weapons in schools and hospitals, the civilian casualties in the most recent conflict are completely unjustified. Reports typically agree that around 2,100 militants and civilians were killed by Israeli strikes.)

This number is too high, and I believe that Israel should have done more to prevent civilian death, and, in that way, Marzec has a point. But because of the way she expressed her opinion, she received a negative reaction from many people, including Ohio University. (However, the gruesome way in which she expressed her opinion took away from the message.) Ohio University students and administrators spoke out against Marzec. Some simply criticized her actions or requested her resignation; others sent death threats, according to The Athens News. The student government condemned the video, and the university released a statement responding to it, saying, “Her actions do not reflect the position of Ohio University or President McDavis. We recognize the rights of individual students to speak out on matters of public concern and we will continue to do so, but want to be clear that the message shared today by her is not an institutional position or a belief held by President McDavis.”

Marzec had a point, and a good one at that, but she disgraced herself by taking it too far. She disrespected what the ice bucket challenge stands for and put her message out in a way that turned people against her. The world tends to villainize radicals, so next time, put your opinion out in a way that people won’t revolt against.