The legislation was put forward at the urging of the Students for Justice in Palestine group on campus. A petition by the pro-Palestinian group in support of the bill was signed by nearly 200 undergraduate students. One against the petition garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
Ahead of Wednesday’s debates, powerful voices from outside the university weighed in against the bill. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and six of Maryland’s Democratic U.S. congressmen signed a letter to the student government president, A.J. Pruitt, voicing opposition to the BDS movement “that would only undermine efforts to achieving Middle East peace through a two-state solution.”
Also Wednesday, the University of Michigan’s student government voted 23-17, with five abstentions, to urge university leaders to look into divesting from companies that do business with Israel.
The resolution to investigate divesting from Israel passed after 10 failed attempts since 2002. Last year’s resolution was voted down 34-13.
However, University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said that while the university appreciates hearing from its students, the main purpose of its investments is to generate income to support its mission, according to the MLive news website.
“We do not anticipate a change in this approach or the creation of a committee,” he said.