Due to the amount of attention elicited by the divestment measure that was voted on in the USGA Senate on March 18, Students for Justice in Palestine at Loyola University Chicago (SJP LUC) would like to provide some clarifying information about this issue for the student body.
Contrary to criticism that has been voiced about the divestment measure, the process followed was open and transparent. On Feb. 25, 2014, a total of nine Senate members co-sponsored a measure requesting that Loyola University Chicago divest its holdings from certain companies proven to be complicit in well-documented human rights abuses by the Israeli government.
The measure suggests that if it is indeed found that Loyola University Chicago is invested in certain companies (Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard Company, Group 4 Securicor, Raytheon, Elbit Systems, SodaStream and Veolia) or in any companies determined in the future to be similarly complicit in human rights abuses, that Loyola divest its funds from these companies.
The Senate meeting, held on March 18, was open to the general public, as are all USGA Senate meetings. Current students, alumni and community members sat in on the deliberation of this measure. The measure was voted upon by the USGA Senate and was passed by a vote of 26-0, with two abstentions. The agenda and content of the meeting and discussion are accessible to the general public.
Prior to the USGA’s consideration of the measure, cosponsors conducted a petition, which 895 current undergraduate students signed, expressing concern about the possibility that their tuition money was aiding companies “that help facilitate the abuse of human rights here and abroad.” SJP LUC held public teach-ins to educate the student body about divestment in addition to tabling at the Damen Student Center three weeks leading up to the introduction of the measure to the student Senate.
This measure, like all USGA measures, was not publicized by the Senate itself. Most measures go through the Senate without significant public discussion. SJP strived to inform and educate about the issues underlying the measure – namely, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, the human rights abuses committed in the maintenance of this occupation and the complicity of international corporations in the subjugation of Palestinians – before the measure was introduced.
It is a mischaracterization of this measure, and of SJP’s views and motivations, to label it as anti-Semitic, hateful towards the Jewish community or in any way intended to harm this community. Rather, we believe such a measure serves to clean the Loyola community’s hands of complicity in human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere in the world.
Calling for divestment has been a crucial nonviolent tool in other struggles for freedom, equality and human rights, from the prison industry to Apartheid South Africa. To smear those that use this as a tool to achieve Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic is to ignore and deny the decades of occupation, discrimination and systematic abuse exercised on the Palestinian people.
To be clear, Loyola University Chicago is not bound by this measure, nor has it, as an educational institution, agreed to divest from the corporations listed in the measure introduced to the Senate. There are many steps that the proposed measure has yet to go through for it to have any binding effect and SJP LUC continues to welcome discussion on the substance of the resolution.
We are proud of our student government for passing the resolution, and look forward to continuing the public discussion we initiated on campus about Loyola’s proposed divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, and from other human rights and international law violations.
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