Northeastern student senate rejects divestment referendum


BOSTON (JTA) – Student leaders at Northeastern University rejected a resolution to have the student body vote on whether the school should divest from companies doing business with Israel.

The Student Government Association voted Monday to reject the measure, with 25 senators opposed, nine in favor and 14 abstaining.

The vote, which took place just before midnight, followed some two hours of passionate debate, according to Dylan Abraham, a student senator and former executive vice president of the school’s Hillel chapter.

The referendum, which was proposed by the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, would have placed the question of divestment before the entire student body of approximately 15,000 undergraduates. It was similar to a divestment referendum approved last year by students at DePaul University in Chicago.

“The outcome of the vote is welcome news to our Jewish student leaders, who feel justifiably proud of all the hard work they have put into lobbying, advocacy, educational efforts, strategy sessions, late night communications and social media efforts,” said Arinne Braverman, executive director of Northeastern Hillel, which worked with the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, Stand With Us and other Jewish organizations to defeat the resolution.

The university provided security outside the meeting in light of contentious incidents that occurred at similar votes at other colleges, Braverman told JTA. She credited Northeastern students with holding a civil debate.

In a letter to Noah Carville, president of the Northeastern student government, the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, which supported the resolution, asked that the group reconsider its vote.

“Northeastern students deserve an opportunity to engage in a growing international conversation on the role of academic institutions in upholding human rights,” the letter said.

One year ago, the Northeastern chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was suspended from campus after the group distributed so-called mock eviction notices in student residences mimicking placed on illegal Arab constructions slated for demolition by Israel. The suspension was lifted and the group was fully reinstated this year.

A campus-wide divestment referendum is scheduled for Ohio State University in a special election on March 30-April 1.

CORRECTION: This brief was corrected to reflect the fact that the Northeastern student government vote was on whether to conduct a referendum on the divestment question, not on whether to divest. 

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