Students at the University of Minnesota backed a referendum on Sunday that calls on university authorities to divest from companies complicit in Israeli violations of international law.
The referendum asked whether students should urge the university to “divest from companies that are 1) complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, 2) maintaining and establishing private prisons and immigrant detention centres, or 3) violating Indigenous sovereignty?”
The referendum passed by a narrow margin of 3,392 ‘yes’ votes to 3,175 ‘no’ votes, and was part of a ballot for wider, all-campus elections.
The referendum was included on the ballot after attracting over 600 signatures, as per procedure.
Student paper Minnesota Daily notes that, pending a complaint review process later this month, the referendum result will go to university authorities for review.
In the lead up to the referendum, members of the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) encouraged their fellow students to back the referendum, in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for their basic rights.
Responding specifically to anti-divestment arguments advanced by Minnesota Hillel, the SJP members said that the Hillel chapter “cannot speak unequivocally for all Jewish students, many of whom oppose the Israeli government’s policies”.
“We can only imagine what Hillel might accomplish if it invested the same resources and dedication to social justice that it does to defending the state of Israel from student criticism”, SJP added.