November 22, 2019

Divestment Resolution Fails at Cornell

Photo from Pixabay.

A resolution calling for Cornell University to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel failed at the April 11 Student Assembly meeting.

The Cornell Daily Sun reports that 14 members of the assembly voted in favor of the resolution and 13 voted against, with one abstention. However, the resolution failed because of the “community vote,” where the 582 undergraduate students present at the meeting were allowed to cast a vote on the matter. The “community vote” was 248 in favor, 330 against and four abstentions, resulting in two votes being added to the “against” tally.

During the meeting, Student Rep. Mackenzie Smith alleged that she was among the assembly members that was subjected to “threats, insults and attacks” from those in favor of divestment, Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) told the Sun that the resolution doesn’t single out any individuals and that they denounce “all political attacks targeted at individual students.”

Cornell Hillel celebrated the resolution’s failure in a Facebook post.

“We are grateful to the hundreds of members of our community who showed up tonight and voted in support of Israel!” the post stated. “Thank you to the student leaders from Cornell Hillel, Cornellians for Israel (CFI), allies on the SA, and other organizations within the University community who organized a thoughtful response to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] resolution.”

Cornell Hillel added that “the BDS resolution has caused hurt and division within our campus community.”

“We understand that it may feel challenging for you to share publicly your support for Israel,” the post stated. “Please remember that you have the support of the Cornell Hillel community and Cornell Hillel professionals.”

Cornell SJP framed the vote as a victory in their Facebook post.

“When we last brought divestment before the Student Assembly five years ago, the resolution died within minutes of it being introduced because the SA didn’t even consider it worthy of debate,” Cornell SJP’s post read. “Today, we saw a majority of SA members vote for divestment, with the resolution only being defeated by a quirk of parliamentary procedure. Coming into this campaign, we knew how well-funded and well-organized our opposition was. The odds were stacked against us from the start. But nonetheless, our campaign accomplished everything we could have hoped for and more.”

Rena Nasar, the managing director of Campus Affairs at StandWithUs, said in a statement, “We are incredibly proud of the students at Cornell University who stood up against this hateful campaign. With this vote, the Student Assembly ensured that it would not further divide students for an unjust cause.”

This article has been updated to include Cornell SJP’s statement to the Cornell Daily Sun.