University of Massachusetts Boston, MA, April 18th, 2012 - The UMass Boston Undergraduate Student Government unanimously passed a bill demanding that the UMass Foundation, the university’s investment fund, divest from Boeing and other companies profiting from war crimes and/or human rights violations. This motion is a resounding victory for student activists nationwide and contributes to broader international solidarity movements, including the movement for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel (BDS) as called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.
Building on UMass’s tradition of student protest and ethical divestment, a coalition of concerned students, student groups, and faculty presented the bill to the Undergraduate Student Government. As one of the first American Universities to divest from apartheid South Africa in 1978, and having recently divested its funds from Sudan in protest of the genocide transpiring in Darfur in 2007, students sought to continue this tradition of ethical integrity by demanding divestment from Boeing, a company that has actively manufactured and sold weapons, which have been used in direct attacks on Palestinian civilians, a violation of international humanitarian law and human rights.
The bill argues that the University’s investment in Boeing, a company profiting from war crimes, dramatically conflicts with the University’s mission to serve “the public good of our city, our commonwealth, our nation, and our world” (http://www.umb.edu/the_university/mission_values/)
. In addition to demanding the University’s immediate divestment from Boeing and other companies which profit from war crimes, the bill calls for the establishment of a Responsible Investment Committee to further uphold the University’s refusal to invest in companies which profit from violations of international law, human rights and other injustices. The bill was sponsored by the president of the Undergraduate Student Government, the Speaker of the Undergraduate Student Senate, the incoming undergraduate Student Trustee, nine student groups, and 33 faculty.
The bill specifically highlights the connection between Boeing and Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 3-week military onslaught against the Gaza Strip in 2008-09, during which 1,300 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians, including 412 children. Boeing produces the Hellfire missile and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, both of which are documented to have been used in Operation Cast Lead. Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead have been condemned by multiple international NGOs and humanitarian organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Sponsoring students and organizations intend this resolution to build a framework for further divestment work on campus, up to and including a call for the University of Massachusetts to divest its funds from all companies profiting from war crimes anywhere in the world. In particular, UMass Boston’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a sponsoring student group, hopes that this resolution will pave the way for a broader campaign asking the University of Massachusetts to divest from any and all companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of the indigenous people of Palestine. SJP considers the passage of this bill to be a proud victory for the Palestine solidarity movement and is offered as a response to the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Incoming Student Trustee Alexis Marvel expressed her resolve to force the bill through the board of trustees.