Columbia College Student Council approves holding campus-wide Israel divestment referendum


(JTA) — Columbia College Student Council voted in favor of holding a campus-wide referendum over divesting from Israeli companies.

Elected student representatives voted on Sunday evening by secret ballot by a vote of 25 to 12 to hold the referendum on whether the university should divest “from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s inhumane acts against Palestinians,” the campus student newspaper the Columbia Spectator reported.

The vote will be scheduled in the coming months.

It is the third time that the student council has voted on whether to hold such a referendum, in initiatives spearheaded by the camps organization Columbia University Apartheid Divest. Some 34 campus organizations supported the initiative, according to the Spectator.

The council said at Sunday night’s meeting, which heard students speaking on both sides of the issue, that the vote would be gauging students’ perspective on the issue, not taking a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In March 2018, Barnard College students, who are part of Columbia University, passed a referendum, with 64.3 percent in favor, that called for the Student Government Association to write a letter to administrators in support of divestment

The university is not bound by any student vote on divestment.

The results of a referendum would go to the university’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. In the past five years, this committee has approved the divestment from private prisons and from public companies whose primary business is the production of thermal coal. If the committee decides to reconsider the university’s investment in the Israeli companies, it would present the proposal to University President Lee Bollinger and the university’s board of trustees.

Recommended from JTA