State University: Govenors over turn Student Council vote to divest
Three articles on the subject, first a background
piece, then the victory vote and finally the govenors over turning
By Shemon Salam
The South End (official student newspaper of WSU)
26 September 2002
Across the nation, socially conscious students are pushing their
respective universities to divest from Israel. The divestment campaign
is now beginning at Wayne State University and is sure to bring
in a slew of attacks from conservatives, Zionists and defenders
of the status quo that this campaign is anti-Semitic.
The notion of the divestment campaign is very simple and precise.
It stems from the divestment campaign in the '80s in South Africa.
The premise is that because universities divested from South Africa
since it was an apartheid state, they should likewise divest from
Israel - since it, too, is an apartheid state.
The argument that Israel is an apartheid state is a convincing
one, and to those who put the spectra of anti-Semitism to this article,
it should be noted that at no point are Jews themselves being criticized,
but instead it is the policies of the Israeli Government that are
One quick example of how the Israeli Government disenfranchises
Israeli-Arab citizens in a similar fashion that Southern states
African-Americans before the Civil Rights legislations of the
1960s is a look at how the state funds child support. This year
the Israeli Knesset passed legislation that children whose parents
did not serve in the army will receive a 24 percent cut in allowance
from the state. Now this piece of legislation largely applies to
Arab-citizens who are exempt from military service. Children of
Jewish ultra-orthodox parents who do not serve in the military will
also receive the cuts, but they are eligible for subsidies, including
educational supplements, not available to Palestinian children.
Now lets change the names from Arab-citizens to blacks and Jews
to whites and look at the reaction. If this was a Black and White
issue, it would be branded as racist. So why isn't the same analysis
used when it is Arabs? This was the same tactic used by the U.S.
government in disempowering African Americans during the passage
of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments - give them illusionary rights
on paper, but strip them of everything in practice, as it is currently
being done with the Palestinian children. Zama Coursen-Neff, counsel
to the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, said, "Palestinian
Arab children are the poorest in Israel, with the least access to
education. These cuts will disadvantage them even more."
Is it not a tactic of societies in the past been to keep the oppressed
population illiterate? Isn't Israel doing exactly this - maintaining
a whole generation of Palestinian children who will not be able
to defend themselves in the court of law, gain economic independence,
and fight for their freedom through peaceful means.
Coming back to divestment, it means in its simplest form: to disinvest.
Applying this to Wayne State means pulling out the university's
$21,592,000 (a figure that comes right from WSU's financial department)
tied to the Israeli economy. This money is the tuition money from
the students, which the university in turn invests in American companies
that invest in Israel.
It is a simple strategy with a simpler focus - justice.
Locally students at Wayne State have started A.N.S.W.E.R. and
a Web site (answerwayne.org), which is a good source of information
regarding socially conscious events that are going on at Wayne State,
nationally, and in the Metro-Detroit area.
The following months, groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop
War and End Racism), and the Arab Student Association will be pressuring
the Student Council and the administration to sell all investments
tied to the Israeli government.
The campaign has already begun, but its public inauguration so
to speak is on Oct. 1, where students will be rallying in front
of the Undergraduate Library at 11:30 a.m. The protest will march
through campus and eventually drop off a petition signed by students
and concerned citizens demanding the university divest from Israel
to President Irvin D. Reid in the Faculty Administration Building.
Students across the nation are standing up for justice and demanding
it from their universities, that they end this racist practice of
supporting unjust governments around the world. Hopefully, divesting
from Israel will be the first step in fighting injustice on the
road to a better world.
Council votes to divest from Israel
By Cheryl Labash, Detroit
Workers World Service Newspaper
May 1, 2003
The Wayne State University Student Council has demanded that the
university divest all funds from and prohibit any transactions with
companies that do business in Israel. The 9 to 7 vote resulted from
a campaign by the Students Movement for Justice (SMJ), which was
kicked off last fall at the beginning of the academic year. The
WSU Student Council action appears to be the first time that a resolution
proposed by this new movement in solidarity with the Palestinian
people has been enacted.
UAW Local 2322 at the University of Massachusetts has passed a
resolution supporting divestment and active campaigns to end the
illegal Israeli military occupation of Pales tin ian land are growing
on many campuses, including the state universities of North Carolina,
Massa chu setts, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, California,
Minnesota, Penn syl vania and Virginia, as well as Col umbia/Barnard,
Rutgers, Prince ton, Tufts and Yale.
The WSU resolution points out that "Israel was a long-time,
close ally" of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa
overthrown by the African National Congress. It states, "African
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged us all to divest from Israel due
to its violent and humiliating apartheid policies."
In addition to the divest from Israel campaign, the SMJ has led
many on-campus demonstrations against the U.S. war on Iraq. Wayne
State Uni ver sity has investments in military profiteers like General
Electric, Boeing, United Techno logies, Gen eral Motors and Dow
Chemical, as well as the hated symbols of globalization, McDonald's
of Student Resolution
"WHEREAS, the Student Council of Wayne State University
has grave misgivings about financing violent ethnic cleansing,
racially directed against millions of occupied Palestinian
civilians, who are both innocent and helpless,
"WHEREAS, those millions of Palestinians suffer long-term
malnutrition, are surrounded by Israeli army bulldozers, tanks,
soldiers, and by jet bombers, all of which have killed thousands
of occupied Palestinians,
"WHEREAS, on Sunday, March 16, 2003, an American college
student, Rachel Corrie, was killed in plain sight, while dressed
in bright orange, while waving, and while shouting at an Israeli
Army bulldozer through a megaphone, by that same Israeli Army
bulldozer, in the Occupied Gaza Strip,
"WHEREAS, that Israeli Army bulldozer ran her over twice,
"WHEREAS, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has
urged us all to divest from Israel due to its violent and
humiliating apartheid policies,
"WHEREAS, Israel was a long-time, close ally of White
Apartheid South Africa,
"WHEREAS, the Wayne State University Board of Governors
("the Board") has knowledge of University investments,
including what governments our University is paying taxes
to by means of investment, and has the authority to seek such
information from its fund managers,
"THEREFORE IT IS RESOLVED, that we ask the Board to
immediately divest (dis-invest) our university from Israel,
"THEREFORE IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED, that we ask the Board
for a report this semester, on its progress in divesting the
University from its investments in Israel, including divestment
from all companies doing business in Israel, and divestment
from all stocks and pension funds which include those companies."
Board of Governors voted against divestment
Wonetha Jackson, Editor-in-Chief
The South End (official student newspaper of WSU)
May 5 2003
The Wayne State University Board of Governors unanimously voted
down last week Student Council's resolution recommending the university
divest funding from companies giving financing support to Israel.
WSU President Irvin Reid said last fall that he would not divest
. BOG Chair Paul Massaron said the resolution lacked "non-intellectual
dialogue" and is an issue the WSU student body should stay
BOG member Richard Bernstein agreed, while congratulating the
board for its swiftness and professionalism on voting against the
"This kind of distraction during a potentially massive budget
cut is not appropriate," Bernstein said. "I feel voting
for something like this makes us seem anti-semantic and many people
in legislature feel the same way too. In a time of massive potential
budget cuts to this university, the one thing you don't want to
do is anger the legislature the appropriations committee who's voting
on how much money we should receive."
Last month, the Student Council , with a nine-to-seven support,
voted to adopt the resolution recommending the university divest
from Israeli apartheid. The resolution stated, "the Student
Council of WSU has grave misgivings about financing violent ethnic
cleansing, racially directed against millions of occupied Palestinian
civilians who are both innocent and helpless."
The campaign ,started in fall 2002 by WSU Students Movement for
Justice, was one of hundreds operating nationally asking universities
to divest funding from business that have investments in Israel.
But WSU student council was the only university in the nation
that voted in support of the resolution.
With the university facing rehauling due to budget cuts, Bernstein
said even considering a resolution of this manner is contrary to
the needs of the student body.
"This resolution shows you how disconnected the Student Council
is with the rest of the student body," Bernstein said. "Instead
of voting against how the university may have to cut vital programs
and resources, they are voting on resolutions that don't matter
to the students that go here."
No student tuition dollars are invested. But divestment would
hurt student scholarships and special programs, said John Davis,
Vice President of Finance and Administration.
Davis said last month it would be difficult for WSU to divest
form its investments with dozens of multinational companies, which
would mean a considerable financial loss for the university.
But SMJ member Ben Duell said the passing of resolution should
at least raise more student and faculty awareness on Israeli-Palestinian
conflicts. "Although we do not believe, we'll be able to actually
break the Israeli apartheid, we hope this could open dialogue on