Tonight, the Associated Students Senate will discuss a controversial divestment resolution at its meeting, the latest resolution in a yearslong debate about whether the UC should divest from companies profiting off of alleged human rights violations by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.
Currently, UC Santa Barbara’s Associated Students Senate is the only UC student government to not pass a divestment resolution, although divestment resolutions have been brought forth to the A.S. Senate six times since 2013.
The resolution calls on the UC Regents to stop investments in companies including Boeing, Caterpillar, General Dynamics, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, which the resolution states “profit from, and enable human rights abuses and violence” through funding to the Israeli government. Investments in these companies totalled over $35 million in the 2020 fiscal year, according to the resolution.
Unlike past divestment resolutions, the resolution tonight calls upon the UC Regents as a whole, rather than UCSB-specific investments, and notes that over 50 UCSB student groups have endorsed “either past and/or present versions” of the resolution.
In 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019, the Senate did not reach the needed majority to pass a divestment resolution. In 2018, senators did not vote on the bill at all after failing to come to a conclusion on whether the bill would be positional — requiring a two-thirds majority to pass — or directional — requiring a 50% +1 majority vote.
In 2019, the last time a divestment resolution was proposed, the bill was determined to be directional. If it had passed, it would have stopped over $80,692 of Associated Students (A.S.) investment in several companies, rather than being merely symbolic, like past divestment resolutions. However, the 2019 resolution failed to pass with a secret ballot vote of 10 in favor and 14 against.
This year’s resolution— titled “A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Violating Palestinian Human Rights” — does not specify what investments A.S. has in companies committing alleged human rights violations.
The resolution is presented as directional by the resolutions’s author, On-Campus Senator Jessy Gonzalez. The bill is seconded by Transfer Senator Hannah Lee and is student sponsored by Dylan Kupsh, who also sponsored the 2019 resolution, and Alia Sky, the 2020-21 external vice president of statewide affairs.
Although divestment has been associated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — a Palestinian-led movement advocating for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli government — the resolution makes no mention of it.
If passed, the resolution would “direct the UC Regents to withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds and other monetary instruments with holdings in any of the aforementioned companies or subsidiaries thereof.”
Groups against divestment, such as Students Supporting Israel, and groups for divestment, like Students for Justice in Palestine, have urged members and supporters to speak at the Senate’s public forum during tonight’s meeting.
The Senate is composed of 26 senators, not including Internal Vice President Bee Schaefer, who holds the tie-breaking vote. However, On-Campus Senator Soha Sadeghinejad will be excused for the entire meeting because she is resigning, leaving the remaining 25 senators to vote on the resolution.
The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. Aside from the divestment resolution, the only other proposed resolution on the agenda tonight is a condemnation of the upcoming evictions of houseless residents residing in People’s Park.