A revised resolution aimed at divesting from companies that “profit from the military occupation of Palestine” failed to pass — despite a 12-11-1 vote — after it was reintroduced during Wednesday’s 11-hour Associated Students Senate meeting.
The burden of deciding the resolution’s fate ultimately fell to Internal Vice President Mayra Segovia, who was forced to determine whether or not the 12 senators in favor constituted enough of a majority to pass the resolution based on the A.S. Legal Code. Under Legal code, a simple majority is 50 percent of Senators plus one, not counting abstentions — meaning that passage of the resolution would have required a “yes” vote from 13 of the 23 senators present (rounded up from 12.5).
Authors of the resolution said they sought to incorporate critiques of the original document — “A Resolution to Divest from Companies that Profit from Apartheid” — in their revisions and hoped that Senators would note the changes. University Owned Senator Miya Sommers said she believed the revisions made the resolution more neutral and less divisively worded.
“This resolution — there’s a lot of changes into it. We definitely took all of the criticisms,” Sommers said. “This resolution is not taking sides; it’s not saying that we have an idea of what we want to happen around the issue. We, instead, are just asking for our school to not be involved.”
Student sponsor and third-year political science major Katlen Abuata said the resolution did not intend to attack Israel itself but instead aimed to pressure the state to end certain policies.
“What we’re doing here is not questioning the existence of Israel because we don’t want to do that at all. We don’t delegitimize the state of Israel,” Abuata said. “We are asking you to recognize that there are human rights violations and that there are students on this campus who feel uncomfortable with that.”
Anti-divestment speaker Liran Braude said he did not believe the underlying intent of the resolution changed with the revisions.
“This has become more than a little bit ridiculous,” Braude said. “The entire student body’s resources, time and money are being spent so that one group can attempt to force their own personal political complaint on the Senate, at the expense of another group on campus. The bottom line of this resolution has not changed at all.”
Off-campus Senator Ben Green said he rejected the idea of the resolution’s “neutrality.”
“It keeps being said that this isn’t taking a stance, and that this won’t be alienating people,” Green said. “It creates a controversial issue and a climate where people don’t feel safe.”
Senators also touched on a number of arguments discussed in previous meetings such as impact of the decision on the campus climate, which communities would feel marginalized and what financial impact the resolution would have on UCSB. Following a heated debate over what constitutes a majority vote, Segovia announced her decision in tears, apologizing to anyone who would feel hurt by the defeat.
In response, A.S. President Sophia Armen encouraged students to maintain civility when deliberating on sensitive issues.
“We’re all still people, we’re all still students and it’s disheartening to see how much anger, how much pain, can be inflicted on each other,” Armen said.
During the meeting, Senators also began a discussion on the budget for the 2013-2014 school year, which was tabled last week due to a controversial vote on the divestment issue and was supposed to be finalized by the end of Wednesday’s meeting. Members of the Queer Commission, Human Rights Board, A.S. Food Bank and other groups presented defenses for funding requests, but the Senate ultimately decided to extend the budget deadline for one more week in order to more thoroughly examine each Board, Committee and Commission request.