NYU student senate divestment resolution will be voted on by secret ballot


(JTA) — A resolution calling on New York University to divest from companies that the resolution’s authors say are associated with mistreating Palestinians was presented to the student government.

The resolution was presented on Nov. 1 by three student senators affiliated with the anti-Zionist campus groups Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. The resolution calls on the university to require General Electric, Caterpillar, and Lockheed Martin to cease their involvement “in the violation of Palestinian human rights and human rights globally,” and divest from the companies if they do not comply.

The “Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians” will be voted on by the student senate next month using a secret ballot, the independent student newspaper Washington Square News reported. The secret ballot is being called a “security precaution,” but opponents of the resolution say it will prevent accountability by the student legislators.

Six students for and against the resolution will be allowed to speak at the meeting scheduled for Dec. 6, which is open to all NYU students. A vote will be taken following the public comment.

Meanwhile, late last month more than 30 student groups cosigned an open letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton saying they would not cooperate with the NYU Tel Aviv program.

Noting that Israel is denying entry to anti-Israel activists who support BDS, the letter said, “Our participation would render us complicit in the state of Israel’s targeted discrimination against activists and Palestinian and Muslim students.” Among the signatories are the African Students Union, International Socialist Organization, Muslim Students Association, Pakistani Students Association, and NYU Against Fascism.

In a statement in response to the declaration, the university said it “has a clear, long-standing policy opposing an academic boycott of Israel,” which it says “violates the tenets of academic freedom.

“Moreover, NYU brings together students with different backgrounds and different points of view precisely so that they can interact, debate, gain understanding, and learn from one another; as such, their declaration is at odds with this principal aim of our scholarly community,” the university statement said. “While we disagree with Israel’s policy about BDS supporters for precisely the same reasons of academic freedom and scholarly mobility that cause us to oppose academic boycotts, it is worth noting that no NYU student has been prevented from going to Israel, and a case involving a student from a different school was reversed in court.”

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