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Bruins in Paris

Forum discusses student concerns regarding tabled resolution

By hong chen

April 23, 2013 1:11 a.m.

The undergraduate student government external vice president’s office held a forum on ethical investments Monday night to address student concerns about a contentious resolution the council voted to table indefinitely two weeks ago.

About 80 students attended the three-hour long forum to suggest improvements to the existing resolution, which called for UCLA to pull its finances from companies that violate human and labor rights and threaten environmental sustainability.

The conversation on Monday centered mostly around the purpose and language of the resolution and what students think it is supposed to accomplish.

The original resolution drew controversy over a clause that cited a UCLA protest regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict in 2008.

Opponents of the resolution said its language was offensive to some students and was indirectly aiming to divest from Israel. On the other hand, supporters of the resolution said it only addressed the issue of ethical investments by the university.

Lana Habib El-Farra, the USAC external vice president, revised the language of the resolution before the forum, specifically removing the clause citing the UCLA protest regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict in 2008.

The revised resolution now includes a definition of human rights using the standards of the US Department of State and calls on the university to divest from companies that target people “based on their religion, gender, race or sexual orientation.”

Several students said they felt the resolution tried to address too many different issues in the same proposal.

One suggestion was to divide the resolution into three separate resolutions that specifically address human rights, labor rights and threats to environmental sustainability.

Other students said a broad-reaching resolution would be a stepping stone for future undergraduate councils to make more specific resolutions on socially responsible investments.

Another idea was to change USAC bylaws so that if any student feels marginalized by a USAC resolution, he or she has the right to call for a forum on the issue at hand before the council can vote on it.

Some students said that this proposal would possibly act as a filibuster to USAC and make the council more inefficient.

In spite of the different suggestions, the resolution did not go through any concrete changes during the forum.

El-Farra said her office has never held a forum on a resolution before and plans to review the minutes of the forum before bringing the conversation back to the council.

“This forum went above and beyond my expectations,” El-Farra said at the end of the forum. “I really wanted to make sure (the forum wasn’t) going around in roundabout discussions, but (was actually) finding proactive ways to address (ethical investments).”

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