George Washington U student Senate passes BDS resolution

Nonbinding motion calls on university to divest from companies it claims contribute to Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians

An undated image of the George Washington University campus in Washington, DC. (Screen capture: YouTube)
An undated image of the George Washington University campus in Washington, DC. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The student government at George Washington University passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the school to divest from nine companies that do business with Israel.

The Student Association Senate approved the measure in an 18-6 vote on Monday night in a secret paper ballot. There were six abstentions.

The resolution calls on the university to divest from companies that the measure says contribute to the human rights abuses of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. They are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems Ltd., Caterpillar, CEMEX, General Electric, Northrop Grumman, the Raytheon Company, and Motorola Solutions.

Prior to the vote, the student Senate heard three hours of public comment from 80 students on both sides of the issue, The GW Hatchet student newspaper reported. The student Senate then voted to debate the resolution in executive session, which is closed to the public.

It is not known if the university has holdings in any of the companies in its $1.7 billion endowment. University officials have declined to provide information about its investment portfolio, according to the Hatchet.

Divest This Time GW, a student-led campaign for Palestinian rights, pushed the resolution, which was introduced by four senators. Seven student groups endorsed the measure in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement targeting Israel: Queer Radicals; GWU Students for Justice in Palestine; GWU Muslim Students’ Association; Jewish Voice for Peace GWU; Young Democratic Socialists of America GW; GWU Students for Indigenous and Native American Rights; and the Association of Queer Women and Allies.

On April 16, a vote on the resolution was canceled just minutes before the scheduled start of the student Senate meeting due to security concerns.

Last spring, a similar version of the proposal failed by one vote in the student Senate.

Also at the Monday night meeting, a censure hearing was held for a student senator who faced accusations of anti-Semitism over a 2014 Facebook post in which he called for a boycott of a multicultural event for including pro-Israel student groups. The student senators did not have the two-thirds majority needed to censure Brady Forrest, according to the Hatchet.

Forrest said he wasn’t attacking Judaism in the posts but opposing organizations that backed Israel in its 2014 war against Gaza.

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