Stanford University students approve divestment from firms abetting Israel’s crimes

In a surprise re-vote Tuesday night, the undergraduate student senate at Stanford University in California passed a resolution to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinians’ rights. The victory was a landslide, with ten senators voting to support the resolution, four voting against and one abstention.

The divestment approval comes just a week after the undergraduate student senate held a vote on the divestment resolution and came up just one vote short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

The resolution was brought forth by the Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) coalition, which consists of nineteen student groups including the Black Student Union, MEChA (the largest Latin@/Chican@ students organization in the US) and Stanford Students for Queer Liberation.

According to a press release published Tuesday night, SOOP says:

The Senate chair and Senate deputy chair motioned to reconsider the resolution after it was narrowly defeated by one vote last week (nine for, one abstention, five against). The senators stated that the hostile environment opponents of divestment created at last week’s hearing impeded their ability to vote with clarity and requested the opportunity to align their votes with their true opinions.

“Immense student support”

Stanford students have been steadily campaigning for divestment for the last eight years and the increased support for divestment has been nothing less than dramatic.

In a 2013 vote, a divestment resolution only garnered the support of one student senator, with seven in opposition and five abstaining.

SOOP’s steady outreach, educational event organizing and direct actions have undoubtedly helped make Palestine solidarity activism become mainstream on campus.

The coalition says in a press release after the 10 February vote that during this latest campaign, the coalition “gathered immense student support; over 1,600 students signed SOOP’s petition and about 400 supporters gathered” at the initial divestment hearing last week.

This week, SOOP campaigners and supporters say that the next step is to pressure the board of trustees to adopt the recommendations put forth by the student voice.

In SOOP’s press release, Stanford sophomore Ramah Awad said, “After months of hard work, it is gratifying to witness the Senate answer our call and affirm our efforts towards divestment. Our next step is to pressure the board of trustees to follow through. We ask the board and [Stanford University] President [John] Hennessy directly: ‘Are you going to listen to the student voice?’”

There was a lively response on social media to news of the divestment vote:

Along with the University of California at Davis and the UC Students Association, Stanford’s divestment is the third successful campaign so far in 2015.




All praise and appreciation to the young people. Remember, it was the youth who began the campaign that ended South Africa's apartheid. And they will cripple the Israeli apartheid as well.


Agree, maggie. Great job. Your tenacity (8 years) and the solidarity and focus of 19 different organizations working together for this result is impressive and exemplary and that's what it will take -- so stay together. Thanks, Nora.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).