Saturday, May 1, 2010

Divestment Resolutions spreading:

"I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again and it might take 10 years, but divestment will pass."

At the University of California's San Diego and Berkeley campuses:

"BDS Movement grows despite UC-Berkeley divestment veto"


May 1-7, 2010


After a 16-4 original vote by student senators for divestment from two companies (General Electric and United Technologies) that are allegedly providing military technologies to Israel that were used in alleged war crimes, the University of California-Berkeley’s student senate seemed on its way to passing a historic bill.

But a March 24 veto by Associated Students of the University of California-Berkeley (ASUC) President Will Smelko put the passage in jeopardy.

The UC-Berkeley divestment bill saga ended at about 4 a.m. on Thursday April 29 when subsequent efforts to override the veto by two-thirds majority fell one vote short for a second time by a 13-5-1 vote with student action senator Anish Gala not participating. The meeting originally began Wednesday night and was reportedly attended by about 500 people.

Despite the inability to override the veto due to changed votes from ASUC members, ASUC Student Senator Emily Carlton said that the pro-divestment crowd on campus and in California remains upbeat and satisfied with the attention the proposed bill brought to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"The bill was an encouragement for the region to divest and to start a movement so n that sense the veto was a really good thing," she said.

The divestment saga drew international attention as well as coverage from many local California outlets including the popular Democracy Now! radio show. Carlton said that the show refused to cover the divestment issue until Smelko issued the veto.

"When the veto happened, people started getting interested, we got 25,000 e-mails and the support of more than 40 student groups on campus."

Student Action Senator Parth Bhatt, who opposed of the bill, took issue its specificity according to The Daily Californian, Cal-Berkeley’s student newspaper.

"I personally disagree that this is just an issue regarding divestment from war crimes," he said.

The bill received support from the Jewish Voice for Peace organization, notable authors Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, and 85-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, whose hunger strike at the Gaza Freedom March in Egypt in January attracted the attention of the New York Times.

Carlton anticipates that the bill will be re-written and re-submitted at a future date.

In other campus BDS news, UC-San Diego’s student council voted 13-10-4 in favor of a similar bill on Wednesday night in favor of divestment, but a decision was delayed until next week after a meeting attended by "hundreds of students" according to The Guardian, UC-San Diego’s student newspaper.

Similar measures recommending divestment from companies that allegedly provide military support for Israel have also been passed during the 2009-2010 school year by the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Wayne State University's student council has also voted for total divestment from Israeli military suppliers in the past and the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions is also currently searching for ways to support the BDS movement.


At Georgetown University:

"Divestment Coalition Receives Negative Response from GU"

By Elizabeth Rowe | Apr 30 2010

THE HOYA (Georgetown University; Washington, DC), at:

The administration dealt a blow to Georgetown, Divest!, a coalition of students on campus that wants the university to divest from companies that may profit from human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine, on Tuesday.

Assistant Vice President for Business Policy and Planning LaMarr Billups wrote a letter to Georgetown, Divest! stating that the administration would not modify its investment practices.

Referencing the coalition’s April 9 meeting with a senior team of administrators, Billups wrote, “At that meeting you asked if Georgetown University would divest from managed funds that own stocks in certain companies that do business with Israel. The answer to that question is no.”

The question of divestment is a difficult one, since the university does not invest directly in companies, but rather in managed funds. The Investment Office does not make its investments public.

“Georgetown’s investment practices do not include the selection of individual securities,” Director of Media Relations Andy Pino said. “As a result, the question of divestment does not apply.”

Still, Georgetown, Divest! member and Vice President of Students for Justice in Palestine Jackson Perry (COL ’12) said he knows Georgetown, Divest!’s struggles are not for nothing.

“First of all, [Chief Investment Officer Larry Kochard] told us that he believed we were invested in Caterpillar,” Perry said. Caterpillar is one of the companies that Georgetown, Divest! has asked the university to divest from.

Perry added, “Condoms and cohabitation are not permitted on campus because they are not in keeping with the Jesuit values of the institution, yet the administration thinks our Jesuit values shouldn’t play a role in investment decisions at all? This is hypocrisy.”

Other schools around the country are also pushing university administrations to divest.

According to a press release from the chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California, Berkeley, students have been working to pass a bill through the UC Berkeley Student Senate on divestment since March.

On Wednesday, the Georgetown University Student Association Senate met to vote on a bill that would urge the university to divest from two companies that profit from the manufacture of weapons for the Israeli Army. The student senate failed to override the veto on the bill, falling short by just one vote.

Other American universities that have called for divestment include the University of Michigan Dearborn, Hampshire College and the University of Wisconsin.

“Changing the status quo is one of the hardest things for anyone to do,” Perry said. “However, we are optimistic that the right amount of pressure from various directions, including especially the constant reminder of the moral values of our university itself, will break through the bureaucratic inertia and amoral mindset that is currently dominating the way the university has responded.”


At the University of California - San Diego,

“I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again":

"Council Delays Decision On Human Rights Violations:

"After emotional public input and a complete rewrite of the divestment resolution, proponents plan to reintroduce original language next week."

By Angela Chen

April 29, 2010

THE GUARDIAN (University of California at San Diego)


Hundreds of students gathered at the A.S. Forum last night to watch the council debate a controversial resolution calling for the University of California to stop investing in companies providing military technology to Israel. The resolution identified the Palestinian territories as being occupied by a military force guilty of committing human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The council ultimately voted 13-10-4 to create a committee to further discuss the resolution.

The resolution, which was modeled after a similar effort at UC Berkeley, called for the UC Board of Regents to divest endowment funds from corporations such as General Electric and United Technologies. According to the resolution, these companies manufacture technology used in military weapons and vehicles, such as helicopters, used in war crimes in the Middle East.

According to Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh — who helped draft the document — the resolution is not the first of its kind. However, Ghosh said, if it had passed, it would have been the first recognition of Israel’s war crimes to be approved at a public university. Hampshire College, a private college in Massachusetts, has already divested entirely from the state of Israel. (The resolution considered by the council last night only advocated a break from corporations said to profit from Israel’s alleged war crimes....)

...Ghosh said that he would bring up the resolution again at the 2009-10 council’s final meeting of the year, which will be held next week.

“Next time I won’t bring up the compromised document but instead the original document,” he said. “I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again and it might take 10 years, but divestment will pass."