Stanford senate re-votes, passes divestment bill

Reversing a vote last week in which an Israel divestment resolution failed, the Stanford University undergraduate senate re-voted this week, passing the measure by the required two-thirds majority. The final vote was 10-4 in favor, with one abstention — exactly two-thirds.

At a Feb. 10 meeting of the Associated Students of Stanford University, the vote was 9-5 in favor with one abstention — two percentage points shy of 66.7 percent.

ASSU chair Ana Ordoñez, who had abstained during the first vote, called for a re-vote at the Feb. 17 meeting, switching her vote to yes. She told the Stanford Daily that she had “voted incorrectly” on Feb. 10 because she was focusing so much energy on trying to keep the heavily attended session organized.

An ASSU statement released after the vote emphasized that the resolution is “separate from the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] movement and affirmed both Israeli and Palestinian rights to life, security and self-determination.”

Supporters of the non-binding resolution — which urges the university’s Board of Trustees to divest from “companies violating human rights in occupied Palestine” — claimed victory.

“After months of hard work, it is gratifying to witness the senate answer our call and affirm our efforts towards divestment,” sophomore Ramah Awad said in a statement released by Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine, which sponsored the resolution.

In a statement, Liana Kadisha, co-chair of the Coalition for Peace, an anti-divestment student group, expressed disappointment over the resolution’s passage and the re-vote process. But, she added, she was glad that the revised resolution “at least nominally includes a separation from the BDS movement, as well as an affirmation of Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.” Language in the bill condemns Egypt, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for their “violations against Palestinians living under occupation.”

Activists questioned the hasty and relatively secretive manner in which the re-vote came about. More than 400 people packed the Feb. 10 senate meeting; about 35 people were there this week.

ASSU senator Andrew Aude, who voted no, told J. that “by having two outcomes — and two split votes — [the process] further highlights that the larger conflict has two sides,” rather than showing “unified support” from the student government on an issue that “is just a symbolic thing.”

Kadisha added, “The hasty nature of this meeting and the silencing of anti-divestment voices are evidence of both the senate’s lack of transparency and lack of consideration for the Stanford communities it represents.” — dan pine

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.