Less than four weeks after the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis, or ASUCD, passed a resolution calling for divestment from corporations associated with the Israeli military, the ASUCD court decided that the ASUCD did not have jurisdictional rights to pass the resolution, rendering it null.
Petitioner and UC Davis senior Jonathan Mitchell sued the ASUCD for passing a resolution that does not uphold its main goal of student welfare. At the hearing, Mitchell cited a precedent that defined student welfare as referring to resources, education, safety and rights. The resolution, Mitchell said, does not relate to any of the four tenets connected to student welfare.
Andaru Iman, interim chief justice of the ASUCD court, said the court, in response to Mitchell’s arguments, had to decide if the ASUCD was constitutionally allowed to pass political documents and if there was a difference between personal welfare and student welfare.
Ultimately, the court decided that in certain circumstances, personal welfare and student welfare are inextricably linked. Thus, ASUCD could pass political documents, Iman said — as long as those resolutions include explicit language that describes how they tangibly impact student welfare. The divestment resolution was found to not meet that criterion — but if rewritten, Iman said, it could potentially be passed in the future.
A precedent for the case was established in 2000, when the court ruled on the constitutionality of Senate Resolution 9, which expressed the ASUCD’s opposition to a ban on gay marriage in California. The court held that the resolution was not related to the student welfare and therefore rendered the resolution void.
It is still uncertain if ASUCD will attempt to pass a revised version of the divestment bill to meet the standards established by the ruling, but Azka Fayyaz, ASUCD senator and co-author of the resolution, said the court’s findings do not mitigate the primary focus of the resolution — to bring awareness to the divestment movement.
“It was victorious in what it was trying to do — build coalitions that work against injustice, or at least raise awareness,” Fayyaz said.
She also expressed concern over the possible motives of the petitioner who sought to overturn the resolution, claiming that students who oppose divestment seek to “silence Palestinian activism on university campuses.”
Associate justice Malcolm Rivera said there were concerns that ruling on the issue could “irreparably ruin” the court’s reputation. Two justices recused themselves from the vote, he said, and Iman said he voted against taking the case.
After reading the resolution, however, Rivera said, Mitchell raised good points.
“UC Davis has an arbiter body that can talk about issues on a legal — aside from moral — standpoint,” he said.
The ASUCD Court will release its decision Monday, at which point it will be official.
Contact Jamie Nguyen at [email protected].