The president of Loyola University of
Chicago's United Student Government Association (USGA) vetoed a resolution
calling on the university to divest from eight companies that some students
allege do business with Israel.
"No matter what viewpoint you hold on
the larger issue, this resolution caused harm among the student community,"
said Pedro Guerrero in a statement to USGA and the Loyola University
Guerrero vetoed the measure the day after USGA took
a second vote in as many weeks on the measure.
The first vote, taken
March 18, passed 26 to 0 with two abstentions. The second vote, on March 25,
narrowly passed 12 to 10 with nine abstentions. USGA senators will have the
opportunity to override Guerrero's veto, provided they muster a two-thirds
Guerrero said that he took the decision because the "diversity
of thought on campus was not taken into consideration."
the veto, Loyola's administration had pledged not to adopt the resolution.
"This is not the position of Loyola University Chicago and we will not adopt
this proposal," the university stated.
Promulgated by Students for
Justice in Palestine (SJP) as part of a national anti-Israel public relations
effort, the resolution originally gained traction because of its introduction
by nine students senators (out of a total of 35) who themselves are SJP
members. In what many members of the university community saw as a breach of
democratic principles, opponents of the measure had no opportunity to voice
their views prior to the March 18 vote.
In response to those complaints,
USGA invited four students and two alumni to make statements and field
questions in opposition and in favor of the divestment resolution before the
March 25 vote.
The testimony of students who oppose divestment
significantly tipped the balance of the vote, despite SJP's long-term
preparation for this student government maneuver.
"The point of this
resolution is not to inspire a balanced, rational, or informative debate on the
Israel/Palestine issue. No, the point is to frame this issue using the
question, 'Israel is guilty. How should we punish it?'" said Talia Sobol, one
of the student presenters who spoke in opposition to the resolution prior to
the March 25 vote.
"Not only does the resolution clearly vilify and
demonize Israel but it was poorly researched and includes a number of
inconsistencies within the document," said Emily Briskman, director of the
Israel Education Center of the Jewish United Fund, which provides support to
students on campuses throughout Illinois, including at Loyola. "Loyola is not
invested in all eight companies listed in the resolution, clearly demonstrating
that the purpose of the resolution was not to promote human rights but simply
to drag Israel's name through the mud," she added.
presenter opposed to the resolution, Noga Barpal, acknowledged suffering on
both sides and called on fair-minded people to "end this conflict not through
divisive divestment measures but through negotiations between Israelis and
"I urge that students utilize this as an opportunity to
unite; if the mission of this piece is to hold our university accountable to
socially responsible investing, we must include a variety of situations in
which this has not occurred," Guerrero said.
"I'm happy that we changed
hearts and minds. I believe the veto demonstrates the complexity of this
issue," Sobol said.
STATEMENT BY HILLEL METRO
CHICAGO AND JUF'S ISRAEL EDUCATION CENTER
March 26, 2014
By vetoing the
Israel divestment resolution USGA President Pedro Guerrero opts for principles
We laud the courageous and considered decision of
the President of Loyola University of Chicago's United Student Government
Association (USGA) to veto the resolution calling on the university to divest
from eight companies alleged to do business with Israel.
We applaud and
reiterate President Guerrero's statement to USGA and the Loyola University
Chicago community, in which he said, "No matter what viewpoint you hold on the
larger issue, this resolution caused harm among the student community."
By affirming the need for USGA to give due consideration to "diversity of
thought on campus," President Guerrero and other USGA Senators, as well as the
administration of Loyola University Chicago, have reaffirmed the values-based
and inclusive culture that have always made this Jesuit university a welcoming
home for Jews and other minority students.
Students of good faith and
goodwill must address the difficult and complex issues of our times in a spirit
of cooperation and mutual respect, rather than demonization and
Talia Sobol '16
Chicago Hillel/JUF Israel Intern
Director, JUF's Israel Education Center