West Hall at Tufts University.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
NEW YORK – The student senate at Tufts University outside Boston passed a resolution on Sunday night calling on the institution to divest from four companies that do business with Israel.
The resolution, titled “A Resolution Calling for Tufts University to End Investments in the Israeli Occupation,” passed the Tufts Community Union Senate by a vote of 17 in favor and six opposed, with eight abstentions.
More than 100 students attended the senate debate prior to the vote, according to The Tufts Daily student newspaper.
The four companies mentioned in the resolution are Elbit Systems, G4S, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. It is unclear whether Tufts currently invests in these four companies. The resolution also calls for the university to screen its investments for human rights compliance.
The symbolic resolution is non-binding.
Students associated with the group Students for Justice in Palestine put forth the resolution last week.
According to The Tufts Daily, during the question-and-answer period of Sunday’s senate meeting, some expressed concern that holding the vote the day before the start of Passover prevented Jewish students who went home for the holiday from expressing their opinions.
The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, which has been active in helping Jewish and pro-Israel students thwart BDS victories on campuses, condemned the Tufts resolution, calling it “discriminatory.”
“Students and other members of the Tufts community repeatedly asked the TCU Senate to postpone the debate, but their requests were ignored,” said Zach Shartiag, Stand- WithUs campus coordinator for New England. “As a result, many students who are directly affected by this issue were denied the opportunity to voice their opinions prior to the vote.
“The purpose of student government is to represent students, but instead the TCU Senate chose to silence many of them,” Shartiag added.
StandWithUs pointed out that student senators had rejected amendments to disassociate the resolution from the global boycott campaign against Israel and affirm the rights of both Jews and Palestinians to self-determination.
The organization commended students who stood up against the initiative and said it would continue working with on-campus partners to support pro-Israel activism.
Tufts Hillel executive director Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, who is also a research professor at the university, told the Algemeiner Journal on Sunday that Hillel was working to combat the resolution.
“The Hillel Jewish community is deeply disturbed by this vote and by the way the resolution was brought so close to Passover, at a time when many of our students are home with their families readying themselves for the holiday,” Summit told the Algemeiner.
Several other student governments at colleges and universities in the US have passed similar resolutions.JTA contributed to this report.