UC Student Association votes to divest from companies allegedly violating Palestinian rights

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The University of California Student Association passed a resolution at its Sunday meeting calling for the UC Board of Regents to divest from corporations allegedly violating Palestinian human rights.

The resolution called for divestment from a number of companies — including General Electric, Boeing and Hewlett-Packard — that have been accused of enabling or profiting from ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“Among the board, it was very calm and conciliatory,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn, who sponsored the divestment item, in an email. “However, people didn’t soften the blows when it came to their own personal beliefs.”

The Daily Bruin reported that the issue was met with lengthy public input, including a chant led by a pro-Israel crowd of about 75 people. Avinoam Baral, president of UCLA’s undergraduate student government, spoke during public comment in opposition to the measure.

“We are applying a standard to one state … which happens to be a Jewish state,” Baral said of the resolution. “Once you create this standard … you need to apply it across the board. If you were to apply it across the board you wouldn’t be investing in anything.”

Baral added that although he supports the university making ethical investments, the resolution does not appear to contribute to the goal of improving the “accessibility, affordability and the quality of UC education,” which is what he understands to be the association’s mission.

Already, several student governments have passed similar divestment bills. Last month, UC Davis’ student senate passed a resolution urging the UC regents to divest from corporations supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In 2013, the ASUC Senate voted to pass a similar bill, deciding to divest funds from companies associated with Israel’s military.

UCLA’s undergraduate student government voted to take similar action in November, and in December, members of United Auto Workers Local 2865, a labor union representing student employees in the UC system, voted to pass a measure calling for both the university and union to divest from companies with ties to the Israeli military.

The UCSA resolution references these past decisions in addition to a 2012 resolution, in which it recognized “the legitimacy of boycotts and divestment as important social movement tools.”

At the same meeting, which was held at UCLA, the association also passed a resolution in favor of divesting from governments accused of human rights violations, including Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Indonesia and the United States.

Melissa Wen is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.

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  • Dan Spitzer

    I’ve left a message at the DC’s editor-in-chief’s voice mail asking why there has been such censorship of my commentaries to what has appeared in the paper concerning BDS as in the years I’ve been reading the Daily Cal and responding to it online, I have never before had so many of my posts excised.

    Should by some miracle this post makes it onto the site, if you also have experienced censorship despite sending commentary rejoinders to the DC without any measure of defamation or untoward language, kindly also call the editor of the paper and ask why this censorship is happening. This sort of overt suppression of legitimate opinion has no place at a major university’s paper of record.

  • I find the claim that the “student body” stands against Israel very dubious. If anyone thinks that resolutions passed by ASUC and its counterparts on other campuses represents the actual views of the entire student body, they must be living on another planet. The opinions of the student governments don’t represent students at large, especially on issues that are subject to no rational jurisdiction by a student government.

    I personally* challenge you, Marium Navid, Caitlin Quinn, Kevin Sabo, Ori Herschmann, Haley Broder, Student Action, CalSERVE, Hillel, and Students for Justice in Palestine (yes both sides) to place the issue of divestment to a referendum of the student body this spring ASUC election. This would be a fairly representative sample size to settle this once and for all (or at least for a decade or so), and actually see where the student body stands. If both of you don’t think that your positions (pro-BDS or against-BDS) could weather a referendum, then please stop attaching the name of the other 35,000 of us to your little political power plays.

    *(the irony of a DailCal troll personally challenging someone is not lost on me.)

  • awwyiss

    Your undergraduate representatives responsible for this decision are Kevin Sabo – Board Chair, Caitlin Quinn, and Jessica Douglas

    • Hey, Kevin’s my man. Hands off!

      • Kevin Sabo

        I can’t be yours if I don’t know who you are.

    • Kevin Sabo

      Thanks for letting our constituents know who we are! You’re welcome to share your thoughts to [email protected].

  • Dan Spitzer

    It was just announced over BBC that the leader of Malaysia’s primary opposition party had just been sentenced to five years in prison for “sodomy.” While the charges were probably trumped up, the truth of the matter is that homosexuality is illegal in virtually every Muslim society. Thia includes the Palestinian W. Bank and Gaza. If you are known to be gay there, you will go to jail. And in many cases, according to gay Palestinians who fled to Israel where being gay is legal in every way (gays experience more freedom in Israel than they do in some parts of the US), Arabs who are known by the authorities to be homosexual may experience quite a beating before they are imprisoned.
    Leader of the divestment bill vs Israel and quoted above, Caitlin Quinn-to her credit-has been a stalwart in her advocacy of gay rights at UC Berkeley. I wonder what she thinks about the fact that homosexuality is illegal in virtually every Islamic majority society, including the Palestinian territories?
    If Ms. Quinn is reading this, I wonder if she might answer the following question: Why is Palestinian society, along with a majority of Muslim nations, not considered in violation of human rights by acting with such overt discrimination against gays? Correspondingly, why are they not condemned by UCSA, with the student reps calling for BDS against these manifestly anti-gay societies?

  • peepsqueek

    I believe in a balanced scale. So if you are going to boycott Israel, you would have to boycott all of Israel’s neighbors for institutionalized apartheid and for all the human rights violations perpetrated in Islamic Countries throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. And the special Islamic sharia for heretics, infidels, and apostates.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Interestingly, the human rights violations re: women, gays, non-Muslims, those alleged to be engage in blasphemy, the jailing or stoning of women who had been raped or allegedly participated in adultery, honor murder (particularly rife amongst the Palestinians as is their call for worldwide Jewish genocide), and of course suppression of dissenters–all this seen regularly throughout the Muslim societies not named by the UCSA, are nations the student reps by and large did subject to BDS advocacy.

    Hypocrisy is too light a word for UCSA. But with the focus falling by and large upon Israel, anti-Semitism is the correct term for what UCSA perpetrated at their UCLA vote…

  • ISil flag waving a big fad on campus these days? I saw a photo gragh. Maybe the divestment will be bettered served if no funds for students?

  • I_h8_disqus

    Reading Melissa Wen’s article, you can tell that she is embarassed by what really happened, because she hides it until the very end. The UC Student Association voted heavily in favor of divesting from the United States. It was a more lopsided vote for divestment than the vote to divest from Israel. Thank you UC Student Association. You just told everyone that the entire divestment idea can be ignored by rational people. We now know that the actual UC will not take any steps to change their current expenditures, because the students sound like they are completely crazy, and nobody will listen to crazy students except for their school paid psychologists.

  • Dan Spitzer

    In short order, a majority of Cal students will think nary a whit about how student gov’t “reps” (they only represent MSA, SJP, and the loony left) have squandered their time with the delusion that they can make foreign policy and influence the regents, who have to a person no sympathy for this unabashed act of anti-Semitism.
    In fact, you can make book that the vast majority of Cal students have given this bogus issue of BDS no thought whatsoever. Unlike the student “reps,” they have better things to do…

  • Don

    I support this resolution completely; what better way to rid the country of this fanatical liberal institution than to have them impload financially.

    • Dan Spitzer

      Because Ms. Wen and her editors have bought into the UCSA’s anti-Semitic Kool Aid…

    • The founders of America all called themselves ‘liberals’ and so all conservatives are actually liberals. Is not that great or what?

  • Are you kidding?

    “At the same meeting, which was held at UCLA, the association also passed a resolution in favor of divesting from governments accused of human rights violations, including Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Indonesia and the United States.”

    Wait, the UCSA also wants the UC administration to divest from the United States!? This is insane. Why did the author wait until the very end of the article to mention something so important?