August 19, 2019

UCSB Divestment Vote to Happen Tonight [UPDATE: Vote Fails]

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Associated Students Senate will be voting on a resolution to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel at 6:30 p.m. on April 10.

The student-run Daily Nexus reports that the resolution, which is being spearheaded by the campus Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), calls on the university to divest from 13 companies – including Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric – that “profit from human rights violations in Israel/Palestine.”

A student involved with the Associated Students department, who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons, told the Journal in a phone interview that the vote seems to be evenly split and could come down to Internal Vice President Steven Ho breaking the tie. According to the student, Ho supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in 2018 as a student senator. Ho didn’t respond to the Journal’s request for comment on how he would vote on the 2019 divestment resolution.

UCSB is the only UC campus that hasn’t passed a divestment resolution; pro-Israel writer Noah Pollak tweeted that if divestment were to pass at UCSB, the BDS community will likely target the UC Board of Regents next:

UCSB student Sarah Mehrnia wrote in a letter to the editor in the Daily Nexus that she felt “directly targeted by this resolution” given that her parents fled to Israel to escape the 1979 Iranian revolution.

“Many Jewish Israelis are people of color who came from Middle Eastern countries where their families faced persecution and discrimination, and Israel was the only place where they could find refuge,” Mehrnia wrote. “The descendants of these refugees make up the vibrant and diverse society that is Israel. For us, Israel is a safe haven and the embodiment of our liberation. This resolution attempts to erase this history.”

Mehrnia added, “Instead of advancing a one-sided resolution, we should be supporting initiatives that promote a better life for Palestinians and Israelis. Instead of divesting, we should be investing in collaboration and coexistence. Instead of dictating a political solution to a faraway conflict, we should be coming together to bridge our gaps and better understand one another here at UCSB. This resolution impedes progress towards justice and the goal of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. It promotes a dangerous pattern that divides our campus, stifles dialogue, and creates a hostile atmosphere at UCSB.”

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang was one of the 10 UC chancellors to sign a pledge opposing academic boycotts of Israel. The university did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment on the divestment resolution.

UPDATE: The divestment failed by a vote of 14-10. More information can be read here.