SG debates divestment resolution

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Collin Poirot, Plan II and communications studies senior, voices his opinion of the divestment legislation.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

Students debated a Student Government resolution that would support divestment of the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) from corporations that supporters said facilitate in the oppression of the Palestinian people.

The legislation, introduced Tuesday, states that UTIMCO’s investments in these corporations violate University values. The legislation asks UTIMCO to divest from five specific companies in which UTIMCO holds shares: Alstom, Cemex, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, and United Technologies.

“UTS continues to hold securities in — and thereby profits from — companies which have an active role in the human rights abuse and institutionalized structural violence perpetrated against the Palestinian people, consequently making it a complicit third party,” the legislation states.

Collin Poirot, Plan II and communication studies senior and an author of the document, said the investments directly affect students despite the overseas distance of Palestine and Israel.

“This resolution has direct implications for a number of UT students,” Poirot said. “These companies that our tuition dollars are supporting are directly responsible for the persecution and oppression of family members of UT students.”   

Rebecca Hanai, an advertising junior who spoke in opposition to the legislation, said the issue is too divisive for SG to take a vote.

“A resolution proposing a divestment from Israel would indeed divide our campus for the worse,” Hanai said. “As a Jewish student leader on this campus, I can personally say that I attend a school that supports such a polarizing issue.”

The divestment resolution, which members of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and other allied groups drafted, is part of a larger “boycott-divestment-sanctioning,” or “BDS,” movement that Palestinian civil rights organizations have started.

Hanai said BDS movements cut off dialogue between the two  groups.

“The notion of [BDS] movement coming to the Forty Acres is a regression to change of any kind,” Hanai said. “The AR resolution poses a threat to our campus, not only by demoting justice, human rights or peace at UT-Austin, but also by repressing any opportunities for open dialogue.”

Amy Nabozny, College Republicans president and history and government junior, said she thinks the resolution would target Israel. 

“This piece of legislation would be responsible and deliberately singles out and demonizes the only Jewish state and few democracies in the Middle East,” Nabozny said.

Law student Mohammed Nabulsi, a law school representative and author of the resolution, said Unify Texas, an organization opposed to divestment, has misrepresented UTDivest, the movement that supports the resolution.

“It’s not asking for a divestment from businesses who do business in Israel; rather it’s asking for divestment from a little, limited amount of companies … all whom do business in the Occupy [Palestine] territories, participating in illegal activity and also participating in a violation of human rights,” Nabulsi said.

Student groups at other universities, such as UC-Davis and DePaul University, have been successful in passing similar legislation. UT’s SG also passed a resolution last session asking for UTIMCO to divest from companies that facilitate in genocide in Sudan.

The legislation will be sent to the Government Affairs Committee this week.