“I’m happy that we’re moving ahead on the socially responsible committee that will work to divest from companies who profit from war and occupation.”
The Palestine activists won approval of their resolution asking the University to form a committee that would try to enforce socially responsible investments by the University. The vote was 12 in favor, 5 against.
Their other resolution, asking the University of Massachusetts to affiliate itself with the Palestinian university Birzeit, almost won (it was defeated by a vote of 7 in favor, 10 against.)
Here is the full article:
"SGA votes against potential affiliation with Palestinian university"
DAILY COLLEGIAN (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
March 26, 2009
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Last night the Student Government Association senate voted against a motion asking for the
The three hour meeting started with representatives from both the Campus Anti-war Network (CAN) speaking in support of the motions and the Student Alliance for
Commuter Area Senator Andy Berg originally proposed the motions on March 4, but they were tabled by the senate to allow further dialogue. Last night he continued to defend them, stating his desire to encourage campus dialogue over the issues.
Senators questioned Berg and CAN member Sofia Albaiti over the motions for the majority of the meeting.
Commuter Area Senator Derek Khanna asked over the wording of the motion, which accused the Israeli government of encroaching on Palestinian human rights. Berg and Albaiti replied by stating that the motion was more devoted to promote and defend education in the Gaza Strip.
Orchard Hill Area Senator Christina Kennedy asked if the SGA had a responsibility to pursue a more neutral stand in affiliating with universities involved in the conflict. Albaiti replied that due to CAN’s political affiliation, they were more inclined to support people seen as oppressed.
Senators further questioned what commitments the affiliation, described in the motion as “twinning,” would require of UMass.
During the debate over the motion, the issue remained if whether to judge Birzeit for notable alumni involved in terrorism was worth refusing to support the entire institution. The argument that the SGA had no jurisdiction over the matter was brought up against the motion. The motion failed with seven votes in favor, 10 against and three abstentions.
The next motion, which asked for more transparency with the University’s endowment, passed.
This was followed by a recess during which Michael Feder, the president of
The final motion passed asked for the formation of a committee to investigate the University’s investments with companies involved in war. The motion passed with 12 in favor, five against and three voting in abstention after language in the bill referring to specific conflicts was removed.
Speaking about the night’s events, Berg said, “I’m happy that we’re moving ahead on the socially responsible committee that will work to divest from companies who profit from war and occupation.”
In regards to the senate rejecting twinning with
Southwest Senator Josh Davidson, who made his opposition to divestment related motions part of his recent campaign for trustee, said, “I think a lot of the problems seen tonight have their failure in the lack of communication and dialogue between meetings.”
Mike Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.