Divestment resolution heads to SG Assembly for vote

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At a meeting Thursday, an SG committee voted down three proposed amendments to a resolution that asks UTIMCO to stop investing in corporations that aid in Palestinian oppression.
Photo Credit: Aaron Torres | Daily Texan Staff

The Student Government Legislative Affairs committee voted down three proposed amendments to a highly-discussed divestment resolution Thursday and subsequently sent the resolution to a vote by the full assembly.

The resolution, which has gained widespread support and opposition from different student groups on campus, asks the University of Texas Investment Management Company to stop investing in corporations that, according to the resolution’s authors, “aid in the oppression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel.”

The first proposed amendment at the meeting asked for a broadening of language, specifically calling to alter a clause that currently refers to “Palestinian rights” and would have been changed to “human rights.” The amendment failed after no SG representative seconded the amendment proposal.

The second proposed amendment called for the removal of a clause containing a quote by Nelson Mandela from the legislation. The representative who proposed the amendment said the quote, which referred to divestment’s success in helping South Africa reach the end of apartheid, was not relevant to the legislation.   

Mohammed Nabulsi, law school representative and an author of the legislation, said the quote is relevant because he believes the allusion to the effectiveness of divestment is a crucial detail in the resolution’s argument. The amendment also failed after no SG representatives seconded the proposal. 

University wide representative Kallen Dimitroff proposed a third amendment to remove the specificity of Israel from the legislation, because she said she believes referring explicitly to Israel targets the country and causes a division within the University community.

“I think it’s divisive because it’s only advocating with one group,” Dimitroff said. “I just don’t think differentiating is the [proper] way.”

Removing any mention of Israel from the legislation would dilute the document’s intentions, Nabulsi said.

“The resolution does not aim to target Israel, but aims to target Israeli policies in Palestine,” Nabulsi said. “We don’t want to erase Palestinian suffering.”

The third amendment was also not passed. 

Walker Fountain, a government junior who spoke at the meeting, said he believes SG should not attempt to regulate UTIMCO’s business.

“The Permanent University fund, the largest [UTIMCO] fund, is not drawn from tuition,” Fountain said. “So first, I must ask if this resolution is relevant to students.” 

Melissa Smyth, graduate student in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said she believes student contribution to the University gives UTIMCO’s actions relevance to student affairs.

“An institution we work for, pay tuition to and carry with us is implicitly justifying these acts of oppression,” Smith said. “That’s what we’re opposing.” 

The SG Assembly will vote on the legislation as it stands Tuesday.