UC Davis student govt has $20 million budget, uses it to play politics

The student government of UC Davis passed a bill to divest from companies associated with Israel, impacting millions of dollars in the group's budget.

UC Davis' Students for Justice in Palestine chapter praised the move, and has called on more schools to protest against 'Zionist violence.'

The student government at the University of California, Davis has an operating budget of $20 million dollars, the execution of which is left at the disposal of students. Amid nationwide campus tension in the months following the Oct 7. Hamas attack on Israel, student leaders used this power to make a political statement against the Jewish State. 

On Feb. 16, the Associated Students, University of California, Davis [ASUCD]  at the University of California, Davis passed a bill to divest from companies associated with Israel.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement,” UC Davis’ chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted to Instagram on Feb. 16.

[RELATED: Michigan State trustees agree to review investments after students demand divestment from Israel]

ASUCD’s budget—which funds student job salaries, campus transportation, and various other student organizations—is drafted by the university’s executive office and then sent to the student Senate for approval at the end of each academic year.

ASUCD’s annual operating budget controls over 30 units, and ASUCD employs the most students out of any department at the UC Davis. The new resolution functions as an internal bylaw, conditioning the spending of ASUCD’s budget and prohibiting spending the money at certain businesses.

The bill, which was passed by the student senate and signed by the student president, is titled “Association-wide Boycott and Divestment from Israel and Corporations Complicit in the Ongoing Genocide in Gaza.”

The document mandates that no Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD) funds “shall be committed to the purchase of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians under international law.”

The initial list of companies that ASUCD will divest from is composed of 34 corporations, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Intel, Volvo, Barclays, Burger King, McDonald’s, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and Disney.

The final vote in the student senate was 10–0, with two students abstaining, according to the Brandeis Center

The Brandeis Center also notes that the school’s constitution requires that budget restrictions lead to the “betterment of student welfare.” In fact, a previous divestment resolution was reportedly struck down as unconstitutional by the Court of Associated Students because it was considered purely political and devoid of any effect on student welfare.

The new resolution, as noted by the Brandeis Center, attempts to evade this problem by promising that it will bring about a “climate of tolerance” on UC Davis’ campus.

The UC Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine also posted to Instagram in celebration of the end of ASUCD sponsoring “Zionist violence” and “genocide.” “VICTORY! UCD HAS DIVESTED,” the organization writes.

 “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student fees that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence,” the post continues.

[RELATED: Cornell student gov rejects bill pushing for Israel divestment]

The SJP chapter is also urging other universities around the country to follow suit by divesting funds from companies connected to Israel. “Now that we know that real divestment from genocidal companies is possible, we urge you all to follow suit in creating a domino effect of divestment nationwide,” it continues.

In its statement, the group calls Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza an “ongoing genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “military occupation.” It also criticizes what it referred to as “monetary complicity” on the part of “Zionist universities.”

Campus Reform has contacted UC Davis and its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.