Tuesday, November 21

USAC rejects resolution on divestment after long meeting


This post was updated at 10:37 p.m.

The undergraduate student government voted down a resolution early Wednesday morning calling for UCLA and the University of California to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council voted against the resolution with a 5-7-0 vote in a secret ballot. USAC moved to make the ballot secret after councilmembers raised concerns that their safety would be threatened by individuals who disagreed with their votes.

After a tie vote to use a secret ballot, USAC President John Joanino made the final decision to vote anonymously, despite protests from some councilmembers.

More than 500 people attended the meeting, which began Tuesday at 7 p.m. and lasted until 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. The public comment part of the meeting, where students expressed support or criticism for the resolution, lasted for nearly 9 hours, ending at about 4 a.m.

The resolution asked for divestment from Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Cemex – companies that the resolution says contribute to human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Facilities Commissioner Armen Hadjimanoukian of the Bruins United slate, Community Service Commissioner Omar Arce, an independent councilmember, and General Representative Lizzy Naameh of the LET’S ACT! slate sponsored the resolution.

Arce said he and other councilmembers sponsored the resolution to demonstrate that slate politics did not interfere with the decision to bring it to table.

Joanino pushed for USAC to take a straw vote at the beginning of the council discussion to determine which USAC members would be willing to support the resolution.

During an initial straw vote, Hadjimanoukian, Financial Supports Commissioner Lauren Rogers, Academic Affairs Commissioner Darren Ramalho, Internal Vice President Avi Oved, General Representative Sunny Singh, Campus Events Commissioner Jessica Kim and General Representative Sam Haws voted against the resolution.

In a second straw vote later in the meeting, no councilmembers changed their vote. Student Wellness Commissioner Savannah Badalich, Naameh, External Vice President Maryssa Hall, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Jessica Trumble and Arce still said they would support the resolution.

Kim said she felt uncomfortable voting for the resolution because she thought it was divisive and she did not want to alienate the resolution’s opponents if there was a chance USAC could find a less polarizing solution to the issue.

“I would like to represent the entire study body in the most representative way as possible,” Kim said.

During the discussion, Hall told councilmembers she thinks they should take stances on issues even if they are controversial. She added that she did not think USAC was neutral in the debate, since UC funding, to which students contribute, is invested in companies specified in the resolution.

“As an elected official, I will continue to take stances and the right stances,” Hall said.

Hall said she thought councilmembers who did not feel knowledgeable about the issue should abstain from voting, something that is not common with this year’s council.

During the council meeting, officers discussed a resolution relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that Oved authored and brought to table last quarter. Oved said he was wrong to bring the resolution to the council in the fall.

No one came into the USAC meeting with the vulnerability to get a sense of what the other side was saying,” Oved said. “They came in with a defensive mentality. That’s not dialogue.”

Miriam Eshaghian, the president of Bruins for Israel and a fourth-year psychobiology student, said she thinks that the USAC meeting and the discussion about the resolution reflected a division in the UCLA student body.

She added that she thinks comments made at the meeting were anti-Semitic and anti-American and disrespectful of multiple campus communities.

“This resolution was not about human rights, it was political,” Eshaghian said.

Some councilmembers said they thought Students for Justice in Palestine should have included the input of Jewish student groups on campus, such as Bruins for Israel and Hillel at UCLA, in the drafting of the resolution.

“If this resolution is passed, then the Jewish community will feel marginalized,” Rogers said.

Rogers, Oved, Ramalho and Singh all said that they wanted students to look for a more inclusive solution to the issue and that the divestment resolution was not the right approach to the problem.

“I want to challenge the fact that this divestment resolution is the only means to change,” Oved said. “This can be a united front. This can.”

After councilmembers voted down the resolution, students chanted against the decision for a few minutes and then filed out of Ackerman Grand Ballroom.

Naameh exited the room with members of Students for Justice in Palestine before the meeting ended and Hall stood and put up her fist in solidarity with students who supported the resolution.

Arce, who spoke emotionally about the resolution after the meeting, said he was angry after the USAC vote because he was moved by its effect on students.

“(The resolution) was really close to students and to see them feel really silenced … I felt really powerless to help them work through that pain,” Arce said.

Dana Saifan, a fourth-year psychology student and the president of Students for Justice in Palestine, said she thinks Students for Justice in Palestine helped educate the UCLA community and build solidarity among some student groups by bringing forth the resolution, even if it did not pass.

“It’s shameful that USAC felt they had the right to make students continue to be complicit in violence against their families,” Saifan said.

She added that Students for Justice in Palestine will keep pushing for divestment, though the group does not have specific plans.

“(The issue is) not going away. It’s here,” she said.

Dozens of students said they were too disappointed with the vote to comment on it to the Daily Bruin as they walked out of the meeting, while others said they thought councilmembers made a just decision.

Contributing reports by Amanda Schallert, Bruin senior staff.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • http://www.israelinitiative.com/ Yishai_Kohen

    From a Pew poll taken not long ago:

    89% of “Palestinians” want Sharia (Islamic law) to be “the official law of the land” (p. 9)

    40% of “Palestinians” support suicide bombings or other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam (Pp. 10, 70)

    48% of “Palestinians” see polygamy as morally acceptable (p. 11)

    51% of “Palestinians” believe that there is only one correct interpretation of Sharia (p. 44)

    95% of “Palestinians” who pray several times a day and 68% who pray less often believe that Sharia should be the law of the land (p. 47)

    44% of “Palestinians” believe that Sharia must be enforced upon non-Muslims as well (p.48)

    76% of “Palestinians” who say Sharia should be the law of the land, favor corporal punishment, like cutting off hands for theft, etc. (p.52)

    84% of “Palestinians” who say Sharia should be the law of the land, favor stoning as a punishment for adultery (p.54)

    66% of “Palestinians” who say Sharia should be the law of the land, support the death penalty for one leaving Islam (p. 55)

    40% of “Palestinians” prefer a strong leader over democracy (p. 60)

    72% of “Palestinians” believe that religious leaders should have either a large influence or some influence in politics (p. 64)

    65% of “Palestinians say that religious parties are either better or the same as secular parties. Only 29% say that they are worse (p. 66)

    92% of “Palestinians” say that drinking alcohol is immoral (p. 76)

    87% of “Palestinians” say that a woman must always obey her husband (p. 93)

    33% of “Palestinians” say that a woman should be able to divorce her husband (p. 94)

    43% of “Palestinians” say that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights (p. 95)

    44% of “Palestinian” males believe that it is a woman’s right to decide whether to wear a veil (p. 97)

    89% of “Palestinians” believe that only Islam leads to salvation (p. 110)

    82% of “Palestinians” believe that it is a religious duty to convert others to Islam (p. 112)

    http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Muslim/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

    We see who really supports apartheid and human rights abuses. THEY should be boycotted.

  • Ambersol09 .

    What is unbelievable here is that there is NO reporting on the massive meltdown by Ms. Dimacali after the vote, showing on YouTube, of her throwing F bombs and ranting incomprehensibly about her opinions of the vote. I hope she is the extreme minority as an accurate representation of what this school has become.
    And where does that leave the Daily Bruin as a way to get true news of events on campus?
    Bruin Alum, class of 1968.

  • http://www.israelinitiative.com/ Yishai_Kohen

    If you REALLY care about human rights, divest and do not support this. From a Pew poll taken not long ago:

    89% of Muslim “Palestinians” want Sharia (Islamic law) to be “the official law of the land” (p. 9)

    40% of Muslim “Palestinians” support suicide bombings or other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam (Pp. 10, 70)

    48% of Muslim “Palestinians” see polygamy as morally acceptable (p. 11)

    51% of Muslim “Palestinians” believe that there is only one correct interpretation of Sharia (p. 44)

    95% of Muslim “Palestinians” who pray several times a day and 68% who pray less often believe that Sharia should be the law of the land (p. 47)

    44% of Muslim “Palestinians” believe that Sharia must be enforced upon non-Muslims as well (p.48)

    76% of Muslim “Palestinians” who say Sharia should be the law of the land, favor corporal punishment, like cutting off hands for theft, etc. (p.52)

    84% of Muslim “Palestinians” who say Sharia should be the law of the land, favor stoning as a punishment for adultery (p.54)

    66% of Muslim “Palestinians” who say Sharia should be the law of the land, support the death penalty for one leaving Islam (p. 55)

    40% of Muslim “Palestinians” prefer a strong leader over democracy (p. 60)

    72% of Muslim “Palestinians” believe that religious leaders should have either a large influence or some influence in politics (p. 64)

    65% of “Palestinians say that religious parties are either better or the same as secular parties. Only 29% say that they are worse (p. 66)

    92% of Muslim “Palestinians” say that drinking alcohol is immoral (p. 76)

    87% of Muslim “Palestinians” say that a woman must always obey her husband (p. 93)

    33% of Muslim “Palestinians” say that a woman should be able to divorce her husband (p. 94)

    43% of Muslim “Palestinians” say that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights (p. 95)

    44% of “Palestinian” males believe that it is a woman’s right to decide whether to wear a veil (p. 97)

    89% of Muslim “Palestinians” believe that only Islam leads to salvation (p. 110)

    82% of Muslim “Palestinians” believe that it is a religious duty to convert others to Islam (p. 112)

    http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Muslim/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

  • pat roberts

    Watch this incoherent anti-semite melt down after losing the vote:

    http://youtu.be/b_PYQYhIiHM

  • ThisIsPalestine

    So UCLA decided that they are not going to divest from companies that trade with Israel. The question now is how many pro-divestment people like Arce will put their money where their mouths are and leave UCLA to ensure that they will no longer be “complicit in violence against their families.”

    Oh yeah, they’ll also have to leave America because every time they buy something, the taxes they spend on it goes to the US budget, some of which might go to to eeeeeevil Zionists.

    So maybe they can attend Islamic University in Tehran. I’m sure that will fit their politics just fine. Or maybe they just prefer to have everybody change to accommodate them, rather than they other way around?

  • walt kovacs

    if those who were for the resolution really stood by the courage of their convictions, they would leave campus immediately, rather than have their tuition go to support an apartheid regime

    hypocrites

    fyi, as a california tax payer, i dont want my tax money going to support students who seem to have way too much time on their hands

    so i will be writing a letter a week to all state reps to finally have the entire uc system privatized