UCSA postpones divestment resolution at Saturday meeting

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In a contentious Saturday meeting, the University of California Student Association voted to postpone a resolution on divesting university funds from companies associated with the Israeli military.

Board members discussed divestment for nearly two hours — including time for public comment — before tabling the issue at the UCSA board meeting at UC Merced.

The resolution, authored in part by Students for Justice in Palestine member and UCLA graduate student Rahim Kurwa and sponsored by ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn, would encourage the University of California to withdraw assets from companies that sell equipment, materials and technology to Israeli defense forces. Supporters allege that Israel has occupied Palestine and committed human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. Divestment, supporters argue, would financially disentangle the university from Israel.

If passed, the resolution would have recommended that the university divest the related funds. It comes in the wake of a number of UC student governments passing resolutions with similar goals.

According to Kevin Sabo, UCSA board chair, board members opted to delay a vote on the resolution, as many felt that they had inadequate time to take the resolutions to their respective associations due to the recent elections and the possibility of a UC tuition increase.

Still, Sabo said he preferred that the board not enter a habit of reviewing every single decision with their associations before approval, stating that it was not conducive to the UCSA’s ability to make decisions.

“We need to be cognizant of the fact that we can’t be afraid of making decisions when they come up,” Sabo said. “(Student leaders) were elected to sort of be trusted to make decisions on behalf of their constituencies, and so I think that is something we need to keep in mind.”

Michaela Fried, president of Tikvah, a Zionist campus group, said the group was not aware of the vote on the resolution or its postponement until recently.

“I texted Quinn that my community would be really disappointed if it wasn’t postponed because it gave us no time to prepare anything, no time to think about it, no time to react or respond,” Fried said.

J Street U, a national student group that supports a two-state solution, declined to comment because it did not attend the meeting.

In 2012, the UCSA received backlash after passing a resolution condemning HR 35 — a state Assembly measure designed to curb anti-Semitism at the state’s higher education institutions — claiming that the bill stifled free speech. The resolution also suggested that the university divest from Israel, alleging that it had committed human rights abuses.

The ASUC Senate passed a divestment bill in 2013 that encouraged the university to withdraw its assets from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Cement Roadstone Holdings — companies that the bill alleged supported the Israeli military.

Kurwa, who was unable to attend the meeting, said he was OK with the postponement for the sake of additional deliberation but ultimately hopes the UCSA will pass the resolution.

“If the UCSA is in the position of representing the students of the UC, the UCSA should recognize (student government votes) and carry it forward to the regents,” he said

The proposal will be considered again at the UCSA’s meeting Jan. 10 and 11 at UC Santa Cruz.

Contact Jeff Landa and Sahil Chinoy at [email protected].

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  • Arafat


    You want apartheid? Try this:

    “To clarify: Wahhabism is the only officially
    recognized and allowed religion in Saudi Arabia. Other forms of Islam and other
    religions are banned and persecuted by the state.

    Saudi Arabia is the only Islamic state in which there is no
    church, no synagogue and no other place of worship of any other religion.

    Shiite Muslims have been systematically discriminated
    against for decades. Jews are even forbidden to enter the Kingdom.

    Saudi Arabia practices a form of Sharia law that is one of
    the most brutal systems in the world. Saudi Arabia has at all times rejected
    the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

    Women may not drive a car and can be punished by flogging.
    Corporal punishment, including amputations and executions, are part of everyday
    life in the country. Just two weeks ago a Sudanese immigrant in Saudi Arabia
    was publicly beheaded for ‘sorcery.’ Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries
    in the world in which the death penalty is enforced even on teenagers,”
    the paper said.

  • How embarrassing. Students for Justice in Palestine will shut down the US gov with this policy. Why do they not go cry to the Hamas Billionaires to help rebuild instead of buying rockets?

  • M2000

    Very stupid and self-centered morons, supporting those who use cars to kill Jews, yea that’s “lovely”.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Hey, Arafat, the Saudi Wahabis are progressing. The king’s court is thinking of allowing women over 30 to drive. But if they do, they will not be permitted to wear any make-up so that they don’t excite male drivers and cause an accident. Sick. Funny, misogynist–but oh so sick…

    • Confused

      The amount of disgusting bigotry and ignorance that I read come from you on anything even remotely related to Islam is nauseating.

      Go away. Get a life.

      • Dan Spitzer

        It is completely understandable why you call yourself “Confused.”

  • BigSticksWalkSoftly

    Even at the student body level, leaders are afraid of upsetting their constituents.
    There shouldn’t have to be a discussion in regards to standing up for civil and human rights.
    Discuss how and where to stand up for civil and human rights.
    Anybody who follows the apartheid and discrimination and ethnic cleansing the current Israeli government has done, especially in the illegally occupied West Bank territories,
    would not have to second guess a call to divest.

    • M2000

      So killing Jews by using cars to run them over is okay with you? Or how about a knife attack killing Jews? Yea who wants the apartheid when they get their state? Not Israel.

      • BigSticksWalkSoftly

        The facts remain:
        Israelis are more likely to be killed by other Israelis.
        Israelis have one of the highest rates of death by traffic accidents.
        There have even been numerous cases of Israeli parents throwing their children out of windows.
        More Israeli children have died at the hands of their own parents or reckless driving then by Palestinians who snap and suffer mental breakdowns that are highly contributed by the illegal occupation, subjugation, apartheid, and Jim Crow policies that have been exacerbated recently by the Likud of Israel.

        • M2000

          You’re making up bullsh*t.

    • lspanker

      Israel isn’t engaging in “apartheid” or “ethnic cleansing”. Do yourself a favor and refrain from the silly hyperbole,as it only makes you look foolish.

      • BigSticksWalkSoftly

        Israel has a policy of “apartness” in the West Bank of Palestine i.e apartheid.
        Many knowledgeable scholars, politicians, journalists, researchers, business leaders have not only described the official Israeli policy towards Palestinians as ethnic cleansing,
        some even consider it a slow genocide.
        I don’t have to list all the examples of Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
        It is time to get off your mommy’s basement couch and learn how to use the internet to expand your vocabulary.
        Israel is a racist apartheid terror experiment gone wrong.
        Palestinians have a right to stand their ground and deserve full civil and human rights without foreigner invader lies, misinformation and intimidation.