The Roberta Seid Award for Courage and Leadership, in memory of Dr. Roberta Seid, is given to one outstanding StandWithUs Emerson Fellow each year who has demonstrated exemplary courage, leadership, and commitment to Israel activism on campus and beyond. Dr. Seid was our first Director of Research and Education at StandWithUs; this remarkable award is in honour of an incredible visionary who helped people of all ages stand up for Israel with impactful StandWithUs educational materials for over a decade.
Lindsay Cogan's journey in the realm of activism started as a StandWithUs Canada High School intern at a non-Jewish private school in Winnipeg. Lindsay faced an abundance of antisemitism and wanted to bring StandWithUs' Our Voices for Peace experiential program to her school. Lindsay sought to educate her peers about how Israelis and Palestinians work together with the help of the Arava Institute. She worked with the Director of Campus Strategy, Elisa, because her school's administration would not approve the event. With her persistence, Lindsay was able to bring Our Voices for Peace to her high school, engaging 75 students (in a small high school) who had very little knowledge about Israel. As a result of her success, Lindsay's work was posted to her high school's Instagram page, and for the first time, her peers spoke about peace in the Middle East. Lindsay attended Carleton University as an Emerson Fellow and dealt with many obstacles. For example, in her Europe in the 20th Century class, a student wrote, "Oy Veh me shekels" on a discussion board post. The student noted how "we need Jews, or we will run out of money." Lindsay instantly responded, "Antisemitism is not a joke," and told those defending the comment to stop "brushing off discrimination because it is incredibly concerning." Lindsay emailed her professor to inform him about the situation. The next day, Lindsay's professor emailed the entire class about the class code of conduct and explained that antisemitic comments were unacceptable.
Lindsay continued to put her StandWithUs Emerson Fellow training to good use. She worked with Rebecca, the Senior Director of Campus Affairs, and Elisa, the Director of Campus Strategy, to publish an article in her school newspaper about the antisemitism she experienced at Carleton University. Lindsay's efforts were met with resistance from the editors because they considered it libel to accuse antisemitic people of being antisemitic. She was limited in what she could write and was not allowed to mention that Hamas was a terrorist organization—regardless of being classified as such by the Canadian government. After many months, Lindsay met with multiple editors and the campus newspaper editor-in-chief, and her article was finally published. Lindsay's hard work paid off, as her story about Carleton University requiring a comprehensive antisemitism policy on campus came to light. After the article was published, Lindsay continued turning her words into actions. She emailed her student government representatives to speak about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) practices at Carleton and kept close contact with many members. With perseverance, she continued to build relationships with her student union. Finally, after many meetings, Lindsay was able to get her student government to adopt the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism written into their EDI policy manual.
Lindsay has also mastered coalition building on her campus. She planned a karaoke night with Hillel Ottawa, Black Students in Public Affairs, the Carleton University Filipino Student’s Association, Carleton Korean and International Society, and the Public Affairs and Policy Management Students Society. The event presented a rare opportunity to integrate Jewish students into the dialogue of multiculturalism and inclusion on her campus. Karaoke night was a huge success and paved the way for future similar events.
For all these reasons, including her passion for fighting antisemitism, Lindsay embodies the enthusiasm and dedication that warrant receiving the Roberta Seid award. Her success in achieving a safer atmosphere for Jewish students at Carleton Campus is immeasurable and will lead the way for more positive dialogue.