Between 7pm on February 25 and 7am February 26th, Students for Justice in Palestine and allies came to the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council to proclaim the equal rights and dignity of all people and to ask the student government to affirm this principle by voting to divest from companies that profit from and enable human rights abuses against Palestinians. As a movement dedicated to justice and equality, our organization was proud to center this process on the voices of Palestinians on campus, and humbled to be joined by a wide ranging coalition of students and student organizations who believe in solidarity and whose support was so meaningful to us last night and throughout this year.
By the end of the hearing, a majority of our student representatives decided that denying the human rights of Palestinian students and their communities was an acceptable sacrifice in order to maintain a status quo that prioritized anti-divestment students' feelings over Palestinian students who suffer ongoing, everyday violence. Nevertheless, we wish to clearly address two points that can no longer be denied:
First, the slim majority of elected campus officials actually voted against a bill rooted in universally recognized human rights - a bill which supported a population represented on our campus which is being denied these rights. This can in no way be represented as an inclusive or pro-student decision. That said, we wish to express our admiration, thanks, and solidarity to the brave and wonderful student council members who stood up for the equal rights of Palestinians.
Second, despite the vote, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the student majority which supports equality, can take heart in the fact that, although we did not possess the political power to win a council vote for Palestinian human rights, our organization forced this issue to be discussed in the open, and forced the council to openly deny Palestinian students their request for equality. Despite the painful nature of public comment and the ensuing discussion, this effort exposed in public an unspoken reality known to SJP and Palestinian students for years - that Palestinians remain the only group of students on campus explicitly denied their basic request to not be forced to invest in violence against themselves, their families, and their communities.
We eagerly look forward to, and continue to work ceaselessly towards, the day that our University's student government votes to support Palestinian students' equality, and to release them from a condition in which they are forced to participate in their own oppression. We have every confidence that that day is approaching rapidly.