U.C. Irvine rejects divestment push

Campus administrators at U.C. Irvine rejected a resolution by the undergraduate student council calling for divestment from companies that “profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

Administrators released a Nov. 15 statement on the resolution saying, “such divestment is not the policy of this campus, nor is it the policy of the University of California. The U.C. Board of Regents’ policy requires this action only when the U.S. government deems it necessary. No such declaration has been made regarding Israel.”

The student council resolution passed unanimously two days earlier had asked the administration, and the U.C. system as a whole, to divest from such companies as Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Raytheon.

In a news release, the student council described the resolution, titled “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid” and introduced by council members Sabreen Shalabi and Shadi Jafari, as “a historic move that could initiate a domino effect across American campuses.”

Jewish community leaders in Orange County, which includes Irvine, denounced “the nonbinding resolution, drafted and introduced with no forewarning by a small group of students with a personal agenda and deliberated in the absence of students with opposing views.”

Shalom Elcott, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County, lauded the strong ties between U.C. Irvine and Israeli universities and promised that this work “will not be undermined by divisive efforts … that are contrary to the interests of students.”

In past years, the Irvine campus has been the scene of numerous incidents between Muslim and Jewish students, with some Jewish groups criticizing the administration for its failure to take remedial action.

However, earlier this year, U.C. Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake led a faculty delegation to Israel that signed cooperation agreements with Ben-Gurion University, Hebrew University, the Technion and Tel Aviv University. — jta