Students gathered by the Prospector Pete statue on a hot Tuesday afternoon to debate and discuss the idea of Cal State Long Beach divesting from companies that profit from various forms of oppression in a “CSULB Divest” teach-in.
The event was organized by a coalition consisting of the Muslim Student Association, Anakbayan Long Beach and the Chicano/Latino Studies Student Association among other on-campus orgs and was held in order to demand that CSULB divest from companies that profit from the conflict in Israel and Palestine, LGBTQ+ oppression and private prisons. The teach-in was planned in light of the division between Associated Students, Inc. and CSULB President Jane Close Conoley over the divestment issues. Conoley wrote in a letter last week to ASI that she did not agree with the idea of supporting the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement as a campus, for fear of isolating Jewish students.
“Economic divestment is such a powerful strategy, and the resources have been expropriated by the Israelis in the west bank of Palestine,” said Spencer Potiker, one of the leading speakers while talking about the history of the Palestine and Israel conflict.
“Israel employs homo nationalism which is a favorable association between national spot and LGBT rights and by doing so they paint themselves as champions of LGBT rights in the middle east. And it’s a way to paint themselves as a superior culture to the Palestinians and further dehumanize them,” said Aliyah Shaikh, an international studies student and a member of Muslim Student Association.
Over 50 people attended the Teach-in and later marched down upper campus and to President Conoley’s office, chanting slogans advocating for divestment. Before the event began, the students were asked to sign their names on the “CSULB Divest” poster that was displayed at the event.
Along with leaving signatures, many participants also left their opinions with the crowd.
“As of last year, 440 Palestinian children between ages of 12 and 15 were incarcerated in Israeli prisons. People with power here on campus want us to sit down and shut up — including my department chair,” Shaik said.
A question and answer session was part of the teach-in and number of students posed questions regarding divestment to Shaik and Senator-at-Large Yasmeen Azam as well as other attending speakers.
Students were also given handmade posters, small badges, stickers and chant pamphlets from the organizers. Along with the material, organizers helped explain the current economic climate of Palestine.
“It is a very difficult time, [with a lot of] booming goods within Palestinian area. A lot of the land and fertile land has been occupied by Israel,” Potiker said.
The organizers of the event gave small saltwater-filled glasses to the participants to drink as solidarity with hundreds of Palestinians who are on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons. The reason attendees were given saltwater to drink is because it has been reported that Palestinians within Israeli prisons are given saltwater instead of freshwater, and organizers called on California State University campuses to participate in this “Saltwater Challenge.”
“This movement allowed us to be critical and engaged the global citizens — and it also stands for students,” said Yasmeen Azam, a senator in ASI and supporter of the divestment resolutions.
The student organizers vowed to continue holding teach-ins to better educate the campus community on divestment in the university and they will be holding another teach-in event today.