Tufts students pass BDS resolution on eve of Passover

Last Sunday, on the Eve of Passover, the Tufts University student senate passed a resolution calling for the school to divest from four companies they claim are implicated in the “occupation” and “apartheid” of “Occupied Palestinian territory.”

Elbit Systems, G4S, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Northrop Grumman are named in the resolution, which was co-authored by a group of 11 Tufts students.

“Tufts should not financially support corporations that profit off the occupation of Palestine and the continued spread of settlements declared illegal under international law,” the resolution declares.

Elise Sommers, a sophomore at Tufts who co-authored the resolution, told Campus Reform that she was “hugely excited” it had passed.

“As a student at Tufts I want to know that my tuition isn't being used to fund violence and apartheid,” Sommers said.

“This divestment resolution is one step in a road to Tufts divesting and the liberation of Palestine. I'm excited for SJP and other campus organization's future work.”

Hannah Freedman, a senior, told Campus Reform that she helped co-author the petition because she wanted Tufts to join the growing list of other colleges that have passed BDS resolutions.

“[We are] using our power as consumers to pressure Israel to end the occupation of Palestine deemed illegal under international law through divestment resolutions” Freedman said.

“Many more students on campus are learning about these issues,” she said, further “increasing the urgency of the conversation around the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the global military industrial complex.”

The resolution appears to be the first BDS-style resolution passed at Tufts — it passed with 17 in favor and 6 opposed, according to the Tufts Daily.

Freedman noted that the next step towards divestment is to meet with the Tufts Board of Trustees to lobby for their cause. She also hopes that the school will conduct a “Human Rights Screen” on their investment portfolio to further “identify companies involved in human rights violations, which must include the human rights violations against Palestinians.”

The timing of the resolution resulted in criticism from some student body members, who noted that some Jewish students may not have been able to attend the voting meeting.

Pedro Lazo-Rivera, the Tufts Freshman Class Senator criticized the timing of the resolution in an interview with the Daily Tufts.

“This resolution could have been powerful, it could have been the chance for collaboration, this resolution was a chance at building bridges, and the timing of it just burnt them down.”

Despite student calls for Israeli divestment, the University President Anthony Monaco condemned the BDS calls in a statement to his campus community.

“We have made clear in the past our opposition to calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions,” President Monaco wrote. “Tufts University does not adopt institutional positions with respect to specific geo-political issues."

Further, the president also condemned the timing of the resolution.

“We are concerned that the supporters of this resolution chose to place it on the Senate agenda immediately before Passover, a time when some students interested in this issue were away from campus,” he wrote.

None of the co-authors of the petition responded to further inquiries on the timing of the resolution.

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