THIS WEEK'S UPDATES
For Immediate Release:
On to the Regents: In Historic Vote, UC Student Association Endorses Call for Divestment in Support of Palestinian Rights
Contact: Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, firstname.lastname@example.org
(SJP at UCLA can coordinate contacts with other student organizations)
On the morning of February 8, 2015, hundreds of students gathered in Tom Bradley International Hall at UCLA as the UC Student Association (UCSA) deliberated motions in support of divestment from companies engaged in the systematic violation of Palestinian rights in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Students from across California arrived to speak in favor of divestment, and to highlight the nearly 90 student organizations across the state which joined the call for the UCSA to endorse divestment. The historic vote passed in an overwhelming majority of 9-1 with 6 abstentions (click here to read the full text of the divestment motion).
The UC Student Association is the official voice of the student body of the University of California, and represents hundreds of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students across the UC system. Today it became the first multi-campus student association to vote in favor of divestment. This landmark vote is undoubtedly the largest victory thus far in the campus divestment movement in the United States.
Since 2012, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UC Los Angeles, and UC Davis have passed resolutions through their campus undergraduate student governments calling on the UC Regents to divest endowment and pension funds from companies such as Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, and Cemex, which facilitate and profit from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, its construction of settlements in contravention of international law, its violent bombing campaigns in Gaza, and its construction of checkpoints and walls throughout the West Bank. In addition, the statewide union representing teaching assistants, tutors, and readers - UAW 2865 - recently held a statewide membership vote which resulted in nearly 2/3rds support for divestment.
Students for Justice in Palestine chapters and their many allies across the UC applaud and celebrate the UCSA’s decision to affirm student activism, endorse the divestment call, and carry it forth to the UC Regents.
Quotes regarding the divestment victory:
UC Berkeley External Vice President Caitlin Quinn commented on the nature of this victory and UCSA’s relationship to the student body: “I’m so proud that we passed it, and thankful for and humbled by the years of organizing that went into this. The work is far from over, but finally UCSA has taken the progressive stance many students have been waiting for.”
The External Vice President’s office at UC Riverside addressed the issue of accountability, stating: “We are aware of the unfortunate reality of a Board of Regents that has a very poor record of accomplishment of respecting democratic calls by the student body of the University of California...As firm believers in backing up words with action, we look forward to ensuring that the UCSA remains devoted to the follow-up work critical to an effective campaign.”
UCLA Student Safwan Ibrahim commented on the meaning of divestment to Palestinians at the UC: “As a Palestinian student in the UC system, it’s incredible to see the amount of intersectional solidarity across campuses, and to witness the shift in conversation regarding support of Palestinian human rights. It is especially inspiring to see the UCSA representatives take up the responsibility of carrying our voices to the Regents.”
UC Irvine SJP issued a statement, emphasizing the relationship between the student movement and the call from Palestinian civil society: “As privileged students living in this state, it is our obligation to obey the Palestinians’ call for BDS and push divestment from corporations that profit from and participate in the violation of Palestinian human rights...we hope to see a liberated Palestine in our lifetimes.”
UC Santa Cruz Committee for Justice in Palestine issued a statement, writing “This vote was a product of a monumental struggle that has spanned decades. It is a victory that has opened new fronts for the struggle for justice in Palestine. We would like to especially thank all of our allies, without whom we could have never gotten this far.”
UAW-2865 member Alex Holmstrom-Smith commented on the meaning of this vote to graduate students and student-workers: “I am happy that the UCSA has also listened to the voice of graduate students and student-workers, who earlier this year voted by an overwhelming margin to support BDS and the Palestinian call for justice.”
Students from earlier divestment campaigns also shared their feelings about the historic nature of this accomplishment. UC Berkeley graduate Emiliano Huet-Vaughn reflected: “When we put forward the initial divestment bill at Berkeley in 2010 we knew the pro-divestment position would eventually become the consensus. It is remarkable that student activists across the UC have made that day happen so quickly. The Regents should note this moment as one in a proud tradition of UC student activism, and, seriously consider whether they want the current generation of UC students, also tomorrow's leaders, to remember them as supporters, or, as impediments, to justice.”
Wednesday: Report Back from Palestine:
SJP at UCLA is excited to present a report back from Palestine with UCLA Alum and former Afrikan Student Union at UCLA chair Kamilah Moore. Moore recently travelled to Palestine with Interfaith Peace Builders, and will be presenting images and stories from her trip. This event is proudly co-sponsored by Afrikan Student Union. This event is also an excellent opportunity for students who are new to the topic of Palestine.
Wednesday, January 28, 7-9pm
Kinsey Pavilion 1240B
For Immediate Release:
Students for Justice in Palestine Celebrates Armenian Students Association Divestment Victory
January 21st, 2015
On the evening of Tuesday, January 20th, 2015, UCLA’s Undergraduate Student Association Council voted to pass the Armenian Students Association’s “Resolution to Divest from the Republic of Turkey to End the Perpetuation of the Armenian Genocide.” The resolution passed without any votes in opposition or abstentions, a testament both to the moral urgency of its cause as well as the amazing campaign mounted by the Armenian Students Association.
The mood in the room was electric. So many students showed up to provide public comment that it became necessary to let them in one at a time because the room was over-capacity for most of the public comments portion of the council meeting. While there were individuals who spoke in opposition, an overwhelming majority of students from various backgrounds spoke about why they felt compelled to support the resolution, and what connections they drew between their own personal stories and histories and the plight of their Armenian peers and their families.
SJP is inspired by this milestone victory for our allies, the Armenian Students Association, and we hope that this decisive occurrence, as well as the organizing efforts that are sure to follow, will help pave the way for long-overdue reparations, acknowledgement of the grave injustice committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire and its perpetuation by the Republic of Turkey, the legalization of genocide recognition by the Republic of Turkey, and formal apologies to the families of genocide victims.
Additionally, we see the passing of another divestment resolution as one more historic step towards ethical finance in education and investment reform. Contrary to the tired trope of divestment being “divisive,” we have repeatedly seen students from various backgrounds who represent a range of political and social justice causes uniting around the common goals of ethical investments on the part of the Regents, greater student oversight in how tuition dollars are invested, and ending students’ financial complicity in the oppression of our family members, communities, and the loved ones of our allies and peers. The success of the ASA, and the intersectional support they received from student organizations and individuals acting in solidarity, suggests that it is only a matter of time before these goals are fully realized.
SJP at UCLA Offers Organizing Assistance to Progressive Student Groups
Thank you again to all the organizations who have helped SJP UCLA with our most recent UCLA Divest campaign. We are truly grateful for your help. Now it’s our turn to help you!
We would like to offer our assistance to progressive student groups who are seeking to learn how to do the following: set up an email service such as Mailchimp, create a website, manage social media, research and write resolutions, and organize a campaign (including events like a townhall).
If your student org needs help with any of these or even something that is not listed on here, please feel free to ask us at email@example.com, and we can arrange a training.
For Immediate Release:
Students for Justice in Palestine Hails Divestment Victory, Thanks all Supporters
November 19, 2014
Divestment organizers at UCLA, representing a wide coalition of students from all backgrounds and sectors of campus, celebrated a milestone victory for social justice with the passage of "A Resolution to Divest from Companies Engaged in Violence against Palestinians." The resolution, sponsored by Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, Conrad Contreras, and Manjot Singh, passed by an 8-2-2 margin. It was sponsored by 15 student organizations and endorsed by an additional 17, making for 32 total student groups in support of divestment. UCLA's vote marks the 6th of 9 undergraduate University of California campuses to have taken a majority vote in support of divestment from corporations that violate Palestinian human rights.
Council members from a variety of political affiliations voted in favor of the resolution, including independents, progressives, and a member of the campus' moderate party. Before the vote, council members expressed their admiration and respect for the coalition building, education, and outreach by SJP-UCLA during our campaign. Also notable was the positive tone of the hearing and discussion, wherein most council members affirmed their support for one another regardless of their votes.
The resolution could not have been successful without the support of the students from many communities who came out to speak in its favor and who stayed at the hearing until it passed. Alaa Abuadas, the programming director for SJP-UCLA said, "as a Palestinian, I want to thank every single person who helped us pass this bill, for getting us one step closer to a free Palestine."
This resolution's victory does not mark the end of SJP's efforts. SJP sees the passage of divestment as a chance to help other communities use this tool as an avenue to attain more political agency. On that note, the organization sees this vote as laying a principled foundation from which students from myriad backgrounds can continue to educate and organize in support of not just Palestinian rights but all causes of social justice.