UC Santa Barbara’s Students for Justice in Palestine released a feedback form on April 4, asking the student body for public comment on a draft of a resolution to divest from companies that profit off of alleged human rights violations by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.
Divestment – a hot-button topic on campus that has, in the past, resulted in nearly 12-hour Senate meetings – has been brought to the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate table five times in the last six years. Each time, the meeting ended without a divestment, leaving UCSB as the only undergraduate UC campus that has not passed a resolution in line with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
This year’s resolution is expected to be introduced at a Senate meeting within the next three weeks, according to Dylan Kupsh, an active member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a candidate for the engineering senator position with the Isla Vista Party.
Kupsh added that there is a “pretty big chance” the resolution will be introduced at this Wednesday’s Senate meeting, but declined to confirm an exact date.
When asked which A.S. senators are going to officially author the resolution, Kupsh said the names will not be released until the day the resolution is introduced in order to protect the individuals’ safety.
“We’ve had issues in the past around Canary Mission, specifically student groups posting signs with their names and being terrorists and associating them with terrorists,” Kupsh said in an interview with the Nexus. “They’ll put the student sponsor’s name and they’ll say they’re a terrorist, and they’ll flyer all around the freshmen dorms.”
Members of SJP are primarily responsible for drafting the resolution, Kupsh said. SJP decided to release a feedback form for the first time this year in order to gather students’ opinions on the resolution.
“At SJP, we think that A.S. really doesn’t voice a lot of the concerns of students, and so we wanted to bring students into the conversation on, like, how these resolutions work and to get more student input on this resolution, ’cause obviously the university investments affect everyone at this university,” Kupsh added.
“We wanted students to have a voice in trying to make change on this university, so we thought to try to alleviate concerns about the divestment bill, it would be a good place to allow for student feedback on the bill itself.”
Kupsh said that SJP has taken into consideration the feedback that students have brought up about previous divestment resolutions and have used that to inform how they wrote this year’s resolution.
One of the biggest pieces of feedback SJP has gotten so far is to increase the number of sources they include in the resolution, Kupsh said.
SJP has also increased the number of companies to divest from and added several more clauses to explain why those companies are included.
Kupsh emphasized that the resolution is specifically targeting companies violating human rights and that the companies just happen to operate in Israel.
“At SJP, we really think this resolution isn’t really about religion; it’s about companies violating human rights,” Kupsh said. “It’s about Palestinians not being able to express what they want or having to fund their own oppression.”