[UPDATED with ASUCI Supporting Divestment:] UCI Student Panel Calls for Divesting from Firms Aiding Israeli "Apartheid"
See Update No. 3 at the end of page 3 of this post on leaders of UCI's Associated Students signing the resolution urging the university to divest from named companies for human rights abuses in Palestine.
See Update Nos. 1-2 on ASUCI's legislative council unanimously passing the resolution urging divestment, and UCI's administration refusing the call to divest.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 13, 4:26 P.M.: This evening, bitter feelings fill Woods Cove Hall in the UC Irvine Student Center as opponents of Israeli government policy rile up supporters of Israeli government policy with a "historic resolution."
While others "study" at Anthill Pub, the student government's legislative council will be presented the non-binding resolution calling on UCI's administration "to divest from companies that profit from the apartheid and occupation in Palestine by the Israeli government."
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That would be historic, resolution proponents say, because if the administrative eventually bites it would make UCI the first California campus to adopt such legislation.
Click here for the Request for Action by the Legislative Council.
Whether its "Israel Genocide Week," counterprotests by Zionists or, perhaps most famously, the so-called "Irvine 11" misdemeanor criminal case successfully brought by the Orange County District Attorney's office against students who interrupted a speech by Israel's ambassador to the U.S., the campus has a growing reputation for being, uh, ground zero for clashes concerning Palestine.
Which is a way of warning you there could be fireworks when the legislative council of the Associated Students of UCI meet at 5 p.m. Observers believe the resolution will be dealt with some time between 6-7 p.m.
UPDATE NO. 1, NOV. 14, 8:59 A.M.: The legislative council of the Associated Students of UCI voted 16-0, with no abstentions, to favor the resolution calling for university divestment from Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon and other companies "profiting from human rights violations in the occupied territories," according to a statement from Irvine Divest.
The non-binding resolution next goes before the student government's executive board, which would have to approve it before passing it along to an administration that, with passage, would become the first California campus pushing for divestment from companies doing business with Israel.
"I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our university," Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation, says in the release. "Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid."
"The decision made by ASUCI's legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale," adds Traci Ishigo, ASUCI president, "and I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity."
Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, did not have such a cheery reaction, saying (via The Jewish Week), "This is extremely disappointing and divisive to the students on campus. We sincerely hope that the executive board of the student government will reject this extremist resolution."
(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/13/2012) - In an historic move that could initiate a domino effect across America's campuses, the Associated Students of UC Irvine voted unanimously to divest from companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.
With 16 votes in favor, 0 abstentions, and 0 opposed, the elected undergraduate student representatives of the University of California Irvine unanimously passed a resolution urging the University to withdraw its investment funds from Caterpillar, General Electric Company, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, and other companies profiting from human rights violations in the occupied territories. The students also pledged to further examine UC assets for investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses anywhere in the world.
The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means to force it to comply with international law and end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes and villages; and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Other divestment successes have occurred at Hampshire College and Evergreen State College, as well as the WeDivest campaign which focuses on pension fund giant TIAA CREF and has resulted in, among other things, the removal of Caterpillar from its Social Choice Funds.
Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation said, "I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University. Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid."
Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UCI and a member of the UC Irvine Foundation, said "The decision made by ASUCI's legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale and I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity."
For more information, or to read the resolution, click here.
UPDATE NO. 2, NOV. 16, 1:01 P.M.: UCI administration has released a statement on the "Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid" resolution that states "such divestment is not the policy of this campus, nor is it the policy of the University of California."
The statement, which appears in full on the next page, continues, "The UC Board of Regents' policy requires this action only when the U.S. government deems it necessary. No such declaration has been made regarding Israel."
That probably isn't making the student government's legislative council happy, but the administration's stance is being cheered by Shalom C. Elcott, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation & Family Service of Orange County.
Elcott reportedly tells the Jewish JTA news agency that UCI and Israeli universities are establishing strong ties, as witnessed earlier this year when Chancellor Michael Drake led a faculty delegation to Israel and signed cooperation agreements with Ben-Gurion University, Hebrew University, the Technion and Tel Aviv University. Such work "will not be undermined by divisive efforts . . . that are contrary to the interests of students," Elcott is quoted as saying.
UCI to continue collaborations with global entities, including those in Israel
UC Irvine's student government, Associated Students of UCI, has passed a recommendation that the campus divest itself of investments with several companies that do business with Israel.
Such divestment is not the policy of the campus, nor is it the policy of the University of California. The UC Board of Regents' policy requires this action only when the U.S. government deems it necessary. No such declaration has been made regarding Israel.
In the spirit and practice of active engagement with all peoples of that region, UCI has been extremely pleased with recent global collaboration between leaders and researchers here and those at top universities around the world, including Israel. The campus looks forward to continued constructive exchanges that benefit our students, faculty and community.
By the way, CNN is right now reporting an "all-out Israeli ground invasion" on Gaza.
UPDATE NO. 3, NOV. 28, 9:51 A.M.: Saying they look forward to working with donors and administrators to strengthen ethical standards when it comes to which companies the university will invest in, executive members of the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) have signed the resolution demanding divestment from concerns "that profit from Israel's occupation and apartheid policies," Irvine Divest announced.
The Legislative Council of ASUCI unanimously adopted the "historic" Resolution 48-15 two weeks ago, but the university administration did not even await the full ASUCI support of the measure before shooting it down. Student leaders and the administration have been applauded by groups across the country for their opposite stances, depending on the organizations' views on the Israel-Palestine issue.
"Despite pressure from the UCI administration and special interest groups to retract their position, the student government leaders remained resolute in their decision to pass the legislation," reads an Irvine Divest statement. "Demonstrating courage and persistence, UCI students and student leaders have sent a strong statement in support of the oppressed indigenous population in Palestine by rejecting the university's investments in companies that profit from occupation and apartheid."
"We are looking forward to working with the University of California, UCI administration and the UCI Foundation on addressing the students' demands for stronger ethical standards in regards to university investments," stated Sabreen Shalabi, co-author of the resolution, in the same release. "We refuse to be complicit in horrendous violations of human rights and international law and we urge the university to join the students in upholding the university's values and principles."
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