U-Md. Student Government Considers BDS Resolution

The student government at the University of Maryland will hear today a resolution that urges the university to divest from companies “profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

The non-binding resolution, one of a number introduced at American universities in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, was sponsored by student government members Tobi Olagunju and Ashli Taylor.

“UMD students have used and continue to use divestment campaigns to reclaim political agency and to change UMD policies that maintain investments in companies that demonstrate a lack of accountability, ethicality, and respect for the rights and dignity of others,” the resolution reads, “most notably in the context of South African apartheid, and most recently in the context of fossil fuels.”

The resolution also “calls upon the UMD to invest in and support ventures in Israel and Palestine that promote human rights and justice, and that do not contribute to the oppression of any group.”

The resolution will have a second reading and vote at the Nov. 15 meeting.

The resolution says a student petition in favor of divestment garnered more than 100 signatures and draws a parallel between BDS and previous student campaigns.

By investing in these companies, the resolution contends, the University of Maryland is not meeting its core values or the standards it signed onto in the Principles for Responsible Investment, a United Nations-supported set of aspirational and sustainable investment actions that include considering environmental, social and governance issues alongside more traditional financial elements.

The resolution also points to two Big Ten Conference university student governments that passed similar language — Northwestern University in Chicago and Rutgers University in Newark, N.J.

“Support for human rights and opposition to investments in companies engaged in violence are principles that have the power to unite members of the UMD community,” it says.

More than 20 companies are listed as examples in the resolution, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Electric.

The resolution calls on the university “to withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings in the aforementioned companies” and “establish a means of implementing greater student oversight and providing greater transparency in regards to University’s investments.”

Ari Israel, director of Maryland Hillel, said this resolution is sure to create a lot of “noise,” but didn’t feel it was reflective of the actual campus climate.

“Maryland Hillel is proud of its pro-Israel student leaders from across the political spectrum, whose thoughtfulness, vigilance and advocacy have ensured that the College Park campus remains one in which Jewish students can thrive,” he said in an email statement. “Hillel is working tirelessly with our student body, strategic allies, community partners and other thought leaders to defeat this unacceptable bill.”

This story will be updated.

hmonicken@midatlanticmedia.com

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