UC Davis student senate urges UC Board of Regents to divest

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UC Davis’ undergraduate student government joined UC Berkeley’s and many other campuses’ student governments Thursday in urging the UC Board of Regents to divest from corporations that support Israeli occupation of Palestine.

In an 8-2-2 vote, the Associated Students of the University of California at Davis, or ASUCD, passed a resolution that encourages the regents’ divestment from corporations supporting the Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories, which include Caterpillar, G4S plc, Veolia Environnement and Raytheon.

In a contentious vote in April 2013, UC Berkeley’s student government, the ASUC Senate, voted to pass a bill divesting ASUC funds from Israeli-affiliated companies.

The ASUCD Senate ultimately voted against the regents’ involvement with corporations that, as its resolution states, play an “active role” in Israel’s alleged human rights violations by supplying technology and weapons that aid in the occupation and settlements of Palestinian territories.

ASUCD Senator Amelia Helland said she was not present for the vote but has voted against similar measures in the past. She added that there was no right way to vote on the issue, so she decided not to attend the meeting.

“As a student representative, I think it’s really irresponsible to take a stance on a foreign policy issue that directly dissociates our school from an entire country,” Helland said.

ASUCD Senator Eugenia Chung, who voted against the resolution, said it adds no benefit to UC Davis’ campus climate and has no place in the ASUCD.

“If the regents won’t listen to students about the tuition raise, something (about which) we all unanimously agree, the UC regents will most definitely ignore this as well,” Chung said in an email.

The regents have not divested in years past because of concerns over whether such a focused divestment would impact Jewish communities throughout the university, according to a statement issued in 2010.

As outlined in their policy, the regents will divest only if the U.S. government declares that a foreign government has committed acts of genocide.

“I don’t think claims that (divestment) isn’t a student issue are true,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn. “There are Palestinian students on our campuses whose tuition is going back to hurt their own families.”

She added that to frame divestment as an issue that pits Jews against Muslims is not fair and can be destructive to all sides of the discussion.

“There’s definitely some anti-Semitism in the movement to divest,” Quinn said. “But there’s also a lot of Islamophobia in the anti-divestment movement.”

Two days after the ASUCD passed the resolution, two swastikas were painted on the property of the UC Davis chapter of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Helland said that it is impossible to tell if the two events are connected but that it’s “hard to ignore the coincidence,” which did, regardless, affect the community.

The UC Student Association, or UCSA, will vote on a similar resolution Feb. 8 at the UCLA campus. The UCSA previously voted to postpone the divestment resolution in November, then moved the resolution from the agenda in January to this weekend’s meeting. In order for the resolution to pass, the UCSA would have to approve the measure with a two-thirds majority vote.

UCSA Board Chair Kevin Sabo said that he is not sure what the results of the vote will be but that it is unlikely to impact the regents’ decision on divestment.

“I don’t know that it’ll result in a policy change,” Sabo said. “I think it’ll up the ante, with students putting more pressure on the regents. It’s very rare that the regents and the students are on the same side of any issue.”



Angel Grace Jennings covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.

A photo previously attached to this article mistakenly pictured a divestment hearing at UC Davis from 2013, not the recent vote taken by the ASUCD.