The UC Santa Barbara Associated Students 75th Senate passed a bill prohibiting its funds from being used to purchase from companies on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions list on June 5. The MultiCultural Center theater was nearly full as students expressed their views on the bill, leading to tension among the crowd of attendees.  

The Associated Students 75th Senate passed a bill to “Ensure Ethical Spending Practices within ASUCSB” on June 5. Michelle Cisneros / Daily Nexus

The senate meeting began at 6:30 p.m. with roughly 150 attendees. The bill, titled, “A Bill To Ensure Ethical Spending Practices Within ASUCSB,” bans A.S. funds from being used to purchase, order, reimburse, fundraise from, or promote products or vendors found on the BDS’s movement’s list. 

The bill passed with 18 votes in favor, four against and two abstentions, via a secret ballot vote. It was authored by senators Daniyal Siddiqui and Alejandra Martinez and follows the passing of “A Resolution Demanding UCSB Divest from Organizations Violating Palestinian Human Rights” at the May 29 Senate meeting.  

The bill cited the hunger strike by Department of Education doctoral student Charlene Macharia, the “UCSB Liberated Zone” encampment and the UAW 4811 strike as examples of “collective demand for UCSB and all its subsidiary entities to boycott companies profiting from or participating in the state of Israel’s illegal occupation and ongoing genocide of Palestine.”

14 students spoke in favor of the bill and four spoke against it during public comment. 

Third-year global studies major Isabel Tobia spoke in support of the bill, citing her personal experiences and concerns regarding how tuition funds are being used. 

“This fall, I was studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, parts of which are a mere 30 kilometers from Gaza.  I witnessed constant drops, missiles going overhead, and news outlets in Palestine on the ground every day,” she said. “Knowing that not only my tax dollars were going and committing war and human rights violations, but also [as a] UCSB student that my tuition is aiding the war machine is heartbreaking.”

Second-year computer science major Ephraim Shalunov spoke in opposition to the bill, stating that the bill singles out Israel for condemnation without addressing human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by other countries. 

“It’s against UC policy, meaning it’s unenforceable, and it’s also been described by the United States Congress numerous times as anti-Semitic,” Shalunov said.“The objective of this legislation is not to correct a wrong. The objective of this legislation, very simply, is to single out Israel and to target it with an economic boycott that no other nation is being targeted with by this association.”

Fourth-year biology major and co-president of the chemistry club Nathan Nasseri spoke in opposition of the bill stating it would negatively impact registered campus organizations (RCOs) by barring them from purchasing items from companies on the BDS List. 

“We helped prepare students for one of the most challenging course series a STEM major can take and we fed them Domino’s pizza. We began a podcast series that interviews researchers on campus to facilitate the development of interpersonal relationships between students and their professors. We did this with mics purchased from Amazon,” Nasseri said.

Natasha, who identified herself by first name only, read a statement in favor of the bill by Palestinian-American theater student Hind J, who was absent from the meeting and did not provide their last name or year. 

“Why should it even be a debate on whether or not we should be investing in weapons manufacturers, ones that manufacture weapons that are sent to an army that has killed more than 30,000 people, most of them being women and children?” she read.

Despite Parliamentarian Zha’s subsequent plea for mutual respect between people in support and against the bill, tensions remained.

After public forum, Attorney General Eric Carlson addressed the Senate over procedural issues. Carlson warned that the May 29 meeting – where the divestment resolution passed — may have violated the Brown Act because the agenda was not posted 72 hours ahead of the meeting. The Brown Act governs the right of the public to attend and participate in meetings of representative assemblies.

“In this way, we are always recognizing everybody’s voice at the table, no matter what. It is incredibly important that you do that, because as far as I’m concerned, the university, UCSB, is literally under an…FBI investigation for anti-Semitism,” Carlson said.

Carlson promised to issue a report on the legality of the May 29 meeting by week 1 of fall quarter.

UCSB Students Supporting Israel published an Instagram post alleging that “the whole room laughed” when a Jewish student shared his family’s story. The Nexus reached out to confirm the student’s identity but did not receive a response at the time of this article. 

A point to vote on the bill via secret ballot passed at 10 p.m., and the bill was passed 30 minutes later. In accordance with requests to maintain quiet in the room, supporters of the bill moved outside.

Multiple Senators, including bill co-sponsor Siddiqui and co-author Ganesh, left the building with dozens of spectators to join in call-and-response chants of “Whose university?” — “Our university!”, as well as “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest!” and “Free, free, free Palestine!”