(JTA) — The UCLA undergraduate student government passed a resolution that calls for the University of California to divest from American companies that are accused of abusing Palestinian human rights.
The student government passed the divestment resolution by a vote of 8 to 2, with two abstentions on Tuesday night.
The vote comes nine months after the student government rejected a similar resolution by a vote of 7-5, which came amid threats to student representatives and accusations that the campus Jewish community had not been consulted on the resolution. The issue of Israel policy has been a controversial one at UCLA — it became a central campaign issue in recent campus elections, and members of student government were accused, though not found culpable, of conflict of interest for taking sponsored trips to Israel.
Introduced by Students for Justice in Palestine, the resolution calls for divestment from Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Cemex and Cement Roadstone Holdings — companies whose products divestment backers said were used by the Israeli military to violate Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
About 250 students attended the Undergraduate Students Association Council meetingon Tuesday night, the UCLA student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, reported. There were 90 minutes of public comment on the resolution during the meeting, though only students who supported the proposal spoke, according to the newspaper.
Representatives from Hillel at UCLA, Bruins for Israel and J Street U made a special 15-minute presentation during which they explained their opposition to the resolution. Students for Justice in Palestine also made a presentation, saying that the university should divest from the companies because they because they either contributed to the construction of settlements in the West Bank or provided weapons used in attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the Daily Bruin.
Student groups that co-sponsored the resolution include the Afrikan Student Union, Armenian Student Association, MEChA de UCLA, Samahang Pilipino, Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, Queer Alliance and Bruin Feminists for Equality.
After the vote, Students for Justice in Palestine hailed the vote as “a milestone victory for social justice,” touting the measure’s broad support across the UCLA political spectrum.
In a joint statement, Bruins for Israel and Hillel at UCLA denounced the vote, declaring: “This vote represents one of several attempts by a small, vocal coalition of students to improperly utilize student government to purport to speak for the entire undergraduate community.”