Divestment Fails at UCSB: With a Tie Vote, Senate Chair Votes Against the Resolution


Bailee Abell
Associated Students Beat Reporter
Photo by Veronica Arvizo, Staff Photographer

 The Associated Students Senate discussed A Resolution to Divest from Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel at their April 15 meeting at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The resolution was voted upon through the use of a secret ballot, which resulted in a vote of 12-12-1. Internal Vice President Angela Lau announced the tie and, as the senate chair, voted no, and ultimately the resolution failed.

Second-year sociology major and student sponsor of the resolution Anumita Kaur spoke about the amendments made to the bill since its original presentation at the April 1 meeting of the AS Senate. The resolution has been amended to say the “Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians,” rather than the previous statement that condemns “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” Kaur articulated the need for the resolution to be precise, as she believes that the resolution “is about critiquing governmental policies.”

Additionally, a new whereas line has been added to the resolution to state that “despite this connection to the larger BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement, we condemn all individuals who express any anti-Semitism, as they do not represent a larger movement.” This new line has been added due to numerous students who have expressed their belief that the resolution was anti-Semitic as a result of its connection to the BDS movement. Kaur stated that the “opinions of a few do not represent the whole,” and that the resolution condemns anti-Semitism within the larger BDS movement.

Sociology department Ph.D student Emily Shneider stated that, as an undergraduate, she was against divestment. However, after living in Israel and Palestine on and off for the past seven years, she has been able to gain a more thorough understanding of the conflict than she had previously.

“What I’ve really come to conclude is that the problem there is not so much about religion, not so much about the things we see in the media, but it is the fact that there are companies over there that are profiting off of the cycle of violence,” said Shneider. “You have an opportunity here as UC students to play a huge role in ending the cycle of violence for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Shneider first visited Israel in 2009, and she stated that until then she had never met Palestinians and had never seen the conditions in which they were living.

“I saw roads that were built on Palestinian land, and I, as a Jewish person from abroad, am allowed to drive through what was their village just because I am a Jewish person, and these people who had been living there for hundreds of years with their families [could not],” said Shneider. “I have more rights than the people who were actually born there.”

Representatives from several student organizations on campus spoke in support of the resolution during public forum. Among these students was second-year sociology major and president of UCSB Black Student Union, Mariah Boyd.

“As children of the diaspora, as products of colonization, imperialism, and slavery, and as people who have been historically subjected to institutionalized violence and racism, from militarized policing and segregation, we raise our voices to end Israeli apartheid policies,” said Boyd. “Investing in these transnational corporations as we presently are, make our complicity in this conflict unquestionable. To make claims that imply that both the occupied and the occupier are on an equal playing field is not only biased and misleading, but also unjust.”

Among the students speaking in opposition of the resolution was first-year Shiri Arnon, who shared her experiences while living in Israel for three weeks last summer.

“Were it not for the iron dome and Israel’s countless other life-saving innovations, and an extreme love for life, which makes its people continuously think of other ways to protect every single one of its citizens, some of my friends and family would doubtlessly not be alive today,” said Arnon. “The materials necessary for Israel to protect its people from harm come from technological companies that they do business with, and divesting from these companies will not be saving Palestinian lives. It will be condemning Israeli lives.”

Ned Tannenbaum, a fourth-year economics major, echoed Arnon’s statements of contention with the resolution, referencing that the resolution only includes language against Israeli policies and excludes countries that have been violating human rights in similar ways.

“Critiquing Israel is not anti-Semitic,” said Tannenbaum. “Applying double standards that make it possible to solely blame Israel for a decades-long, multi-sided conflict is anti-Semitic.”

Off-campus senator and author of the resolution, Xin Ma, shared her belief that the resolution should pass. She stated that while voting on the resolution, senators should consider how the underrepresented and marginalized students have advocated for divestment for three years, only to have it struck down.

“Those who are victors are often the ones to mainstream the rhetoric that shapes our values and dominates our intellectual institution,” said Ma. “I believe that those who have felt powerless among our system know the best about how power relations operate.”

After a reading of the resolution by Kaur and student co-sponsor Unique Vance, senate voiced their opinions regarding whether the resolution should be passed, sent to committee, or tabled indefinitely. Among those who disagreed with the passage of the resolution was Letters and Science collegiate senator Nikka Kurland. Kurland stated that senate passed A Resolution to Create Socially Responsible Investment Systems at the University of California approximately one year prior.

“We took a stance on this issue as soon as we came into senate, because we knew what a big issue this is,” said Kurland. “I strongly, strongly stand for not investing in any sort of human rights violations and ensuring that our tuition is being invested properly, but this resolution, in my opinion, does not solve that problem… I do not feel comfortable voting yes on something that is going to marginalize a very large population of students.”

Like Kurland, several senators explicitly stated their stance on the issue, including College of Engineering collegiate senator Liam Stanton, who asked all audience members in support of the resolution to stand, displaying a clear divide of the audience. Stanton stated that he planned to vote in support of the resolution because it is a matter of social justice.

After further discussion, a motion to pass the resolution was voted upon through the use of a secret ballot, resulting in a 12-12-1 vote. Lau was given one vote to break the tie, and voted no. At approximately 2:30 am, the resolution failed.

Bailee Abell is a third-year English major and the Executive Content Editor at The Bottom Line. She has been with TBL since her freshman year, first as a staff writer and then as the Associated Students Beat Reporter, when she became known for her investigative reporting of the UCSB student government. She was hired as Executive Content Editor in Spring 2015 and hopes to use her year as ECE to improve the image, coverage, and foster a stronger sense of community for TBL. She can be found in local coffee shops and sunny places, either editing articles, reading novels or watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, but rarely without a coffee in hand. Her blog is at BaileeAbell.blogspot.com.


  1. Yay for my alma mater. Sadly I see anti-Semitism is still an issue in Santa Barbara. I loved UCSB but it was not an easy place for someone to be a Jew even in the ’60’s.

  2. There is no “justice” or “peace” in the goals of the “Students for Justice in Palestine.” They are an organized, national collection of Israel-hating Arabs, Israel-hating Muslims, regular anti-semites, and crazed extreme-left marxist wackjobs.

    Israel is surrounded by psychopaths. Right next to Israel, jihadists in Syria have killed 200,000 people. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are next to Israel. Hezbollah. Al Qaeda. The Muslim Brotherhood. Israel is the only beacon of democracy, modern life and sanity in that region. So Israel defends itself. And these pro-Palestinian groups want Israel destroyed/erased, so they sit and carefully craft their “mission statements” to try to trick regular everyday students into thinking that supporting Palestinians is supporting “peace” or “justice.”

    The pro-Palestinian groups are the OPPOSITE of civil rights movements they pretend to be a part of. They mostly support Hamas and Hamas’ desire to exterminate Israel. They support Arab nationalism, Muslim nationalism, Palestinian nationalism, yet they reject Jewish nationalism. They accept Arab states, Muslim states, yet they reject a Jewish state.

    P.S. Read this: https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2015/04/letter-to-the-editor-a-hollow-victory-for-the-jewish-community

  3. While Min, Kaur, Vance and others say they’re only interested in Palestinian rights and human rights. They’re bigots, hypocrites and anti-Semites. Why? Some.
    1. Two weeks ago ISIS beheaded hundreds in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp. Over the past two years, Syrian Rebels have killed several thousand Palestinians in the same camp. These were reported on the major mainstream media. What wasn’t reported was protests by these students and SJP and MSA groups. Because they’re were no protests. Can’t protest killings unless Jews do it?

    2. Mai Ali Saleh, Palestinian Muslim woman was Valedictorian at Israels top med school and Hanan Zoabi, Hamas supporter, serves in Israel’s Knesset. No such women’s rights allowed in the West Bank and Gaza. In Israel, if a Palestinian woman is raped, she’s the victim. In the WB and Gaza, if a woman is raped, she is the criminal. Honor killing us not only legal but the PA itself announced a doubling of honor killings in each of the past two years. No protests on campus because they’re not mistreated by Israel. Or these people don’t believe in Palestinian women’s rights.

    3. Gay rights. In Israel, there’s a thriving gay community for all including Muslims. In the WB and Gaza, gays are executed because it is illegal to be gay. No protests again. I guess these campus groups don’t support gay rights either.

    4. After the 2014 war in Gaza, Hamas executed 37 in public for complaining that Hamas forced them to stay in their homes and be martyrs despite Israeli warning that nearby rocket launchers would be hit. Palestinian rights under Hamas and the PA. Still no protests on campus. I guess these groups don’t feel that Palestinian have civil rights either. However, remember the wall Israel built to keep out terrorists (successfully), the Palestinian in the West Bank sued thenIsraeli govt in Israeli courts. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in their favor and ordered the govt to move the wall in a number of places where it was causing undue hardship. Looks like the Israelis are more interested in Palestinian rights than the BDS campus bigots, I mean campus groups.

    5. Both Hamas and Abbas of the PA publicly stated that they support a policy of killing Israeli children as young as infants so that they don’t grow up to be soldiers. Nice of these student groups to,protest such hatred and the fact that over 200 streets, buildings, parks, etc. have been named in honor of Palestinian heroes who kidnapped a school bus and killed many of the children, blew up a Sbarras, blew up a nightclub for young people, shot up a university cafeteria, blew up a Passover Seder and killed three Jewish students last summer that led to the Gaza War. Didn’t protest that either.

    6. The AP reported last week that of the billions of dollars, thousands of tons of cement and thousands of concrete blocks that have been given to Hamas to rebuild from last summer, almost NONE has gone for that purpose. Almost ALL of the aid has been used by Hamas to rebuild tunnels and re arm. Did the BDS groups ask where the over $1 trillion in aid that the Palestinians have received over the years has gone. Very little has gone to improve the life of everyday Palestinians.

    If these student groups really supported Palestinian and human rights, they would do something other than prove they’re just another hate group.