Recently, ASUCD Senate Resolution #20 was seen by the ASUCD Senate.This resolution urged “the Board of Regents of the University of California (UC Regents) to undertake practices of corporate social responsibility through divesting from corporations that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, violating both international humanitarian law and international human rights.”
We applaud ASUCD for the willingness to tackle such a difficult issue and we support the right of students to bring forth pressing matters to their student representatives. However, we do not wish to discuss whether we agree or disagree with the idea of divestment. Instead we wish to comment on the process of bringing the resolution to ASUCD. While students have the right to voice their opinions and lobby their ASUCD senators to take a stance on such an issue, student government may not have been the most effective route to take.
The senate resolution, even if passed by the senate, would only have served as a recommendation from the UC Davis student government to the Regents to divest from these companies. However, the UC system administration has already stated that it “will not bring a recommendation before the Board to divest from companies doing business with the State of Israel” until the United States “government declares that a foreign regime is committing genocide.”
This means that the resolution, regardless of whether it passed or failed, would not hold any substantive power to make the Regents go against prior statements made by the UC system administrators and divest. The resolution is and always has been simply a suggestion to the Regents.
Many people involved in this movement, including the authors of this resolution, were aware of the Regents’ statement. However, since passing the resolution at UC Davis would mean that the majority of the UC campuses would have declared a pro-divestment stance, the supporters believed it would send a strong message to the Regents regarding student opinion across the UC system.
With this in mind, there may have been other more effective routes of discourse, which could bring about tangible change. For example, protesting and starting grassroot campaigns to lobby government leaders and state representatives to divest from these companies could bring more immediate results.
By lobbying directly to people who actually have the power to make change, there would be a dialogue between those who care about divestment and those who can actually effect change in this area.
Some students have suggested putting the senate resolution on a ballot where UC Davis students could vote on the issue.
However, a possible problem which may arise from this issue being on the ballot is the possibility that only the people heavily involved in supporting and opposing divestment would vote. Some students at UC Davis may not be educated enough on this subject to be willing to make a decision; others may not care.
Furthermore, because the divestment issue would not be a fee initiative, there is no minimal turnout that validates the decision. Hypothetically, the decision would be valid if only one person voted on the issue. Though silly, this hypothetical situation highlights the possibility that the ballot results would be unrepresentative of the UC Davis student body.
Discourse regarding world issues and human rights is always something that should be encouraged in a university setting. However, at the end of the day, we feel there were other outlets that may have been better suited to help students effect change in a concrete way.