CSULB campus remains divided over divestment

In an emotional vote that drew gleeful cheers and heavy weeping, the Associated Students, Inc. Senate passed for its second reading a divestment resolution from companies they say are complicit in Palestinian oppression.

The resolution passed in a roll-call vote with 12 senators voting in favor, seven voting against it and three abstaining.

Attendance at the Senate meeting was high, with people filling the seat capacity and others scattered across the floor and the walkway. ASI officials had to add additional seating and speakers outside the Senate Chambers. Thirty people spoke up during public comments.

During the Senate’s deliberation, College of Liberal Arts Senator Elvia Cabrera proposed to table the resolution indefinitely instead of passing it for a second reading. The proposition failed, however.

“I don’t want it to go into a motion,” Cabrera said. “There are a lot of people that want to be heard. Ten minutes cannot cut it. Fifteen minutes does not cut it … All of the students that I have spoken to from my college don’t know what [the resolution] is. I can’t even get a formal opinion from my constituents if they don’t know what it is.”

While a few senators requested more time on the resolution due to its high controversy, others spoke out against Cabrera’s tabling motion saying that student organizations have already voiced their opinions about the resolution.

“If we can’t discuss this now, then when?” said Joe Nino, vice-president elect and senator of the College of Health and Human Services. “If we can’t discuss this with each other, then how will anybody else? … By tabling this, we’re restricting ourselves from participating in the discussion.

Jordan Doering, senator for the College of Engineering, echoed similar sentiments to Nino.

“If we basically just kill this motion because we don’t want to make this hard decision, I’d ask why would we be on Senate in the first place,” Doering said.

ASI Vice President and co-author to the resolution Logan Vournas, a usual abstainer from giving their opinions on resolutions, vented their frustration when hearing complaints on passing resolutions with heavy circumstances.

“The idea that we shouldn’t vote on something or talk on something that’s divisive is a fallacy,” Vournas said. “If something is a fallacy, that’s more of a reason to talk about it because there’s so much investment on each side.”

In addition to the divestment resolution to companies involved in Palestinian oppression, the ASI Senate passed resolutions on divesting from companies complicit in benefitting from private prison and LGBTQ+ oppression for second readings.

From the Public Comments:

Before the ASI Senate deliberated on the resolution, student government extended the public comments period to 20 minutes as well as allowed an extra 10 minutes prior to board discussion. Thirty people spoke during the first period.

Tali Shaddaei, former senator for the college of health and human services: “Look at the effects of this resolution and it hasn’t even reached its second reading. I know that when I was in your chair, I would’ve never wanted my campus to be this divided no matter the issue. The resolution stated that you want inclusion on this campus. Is this your definition of inclusion?”

Spencer Potiker, American Jewish student: “This isn’t a religious issue… this is a moral issue about people living in refugee camps and not having rights. All of these companies are in some way directly perpetuating violence on the Palestinian people… Don’t be tricked into thinking that this is singling out Jewish students.”

Susanne Wechsler, geography professor: “Senators, I’ve been a faculty member of this campus for 16 over years and I’m saddened by the lack of constructive academic engagement around this particular issue. Crucial context about the situation in the West Bank, Gaza, and the State of Israel has not been provided. This one sided focus does not give you enough critical information to use the academic skills of assessment that you can use to make an informed decision about the BDS movement.”

Ari Edelman, alumnus: “Voting no on divestment means you support cooperation and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Voting no means you stopped a resolution that would hurt Palestinians just as much as Israelis. Voting no means you stand against divisiveness and discrimination.”

Editors note:
A quote from the public comments section of this article was removed due to concerns brought to the Daily 49er for the speaker’s safety.

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