Year 24
Month 06
Day 07
dividerNews ArchivedividerNYU Student Senators Introduce Divestment Resolution in Support of Palestinian Rights
NYU Student Senators Introduce Divestment Resolution in Support of Palestinian Rights

The resolution specifically calls on the university to cut ties with Lockheed Martin, General Electric, and Caterpillar Inc. for their roles in Palestinian human rights violations.

 

Three student senators introduced a resolution before the Student Government Assembly on Thursday afternoon calling on NYU to divest from companies “that profit from human rights violations in Palestine and other communities globally,” namely Lockheed Martin, General Electric, and Caterpillar Inc.

The proposal, officially called “Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians,” has the support of more than 50 student groups and 30 professors. It was presented by Rose Asaf, Bayan Abubakr and Leen Dweik.

“As a Palestinian, this resolution is deeply personal to me,” Dweik, Alternate Senator-at-Large for Middle Eastern and North African Students and Documented Non-citizen Students, told NYU Local. “As an NYU student, it hurts and shocks me that the university would continue to invest in companies that directly contribute to the human rights violations of my family and my people.”

The room was full, with many students who showed up to support the resolution — and those with concerns — sitting on the floor or standing in the back.

“I’m here in support of Palestine,” said Lynn Akili, a Steinhardt sophomore. “I think if NYU is really going to live up to its name as this human rights-oriented, equality, progressive school, then it needs to take a stand on this crucial and defining issue.”

The resolution cites, among other things, reports of Israel’s use of a Caterpillar bulldozer in the death of activist Rachel Corrie, engines manufactured by General Electric in attacks on civilian areas, and warplanes from Lockheed Martin during the invasion of Lebanon in 2006 which resulted in many civilian deaths, thousands injured and a million displaced.

NYU has ties to all three American companies: the NYU Langone Medical Center utilizes a gas firing engine from General Electric; NYU’s Central Power Plant operates seven Caterpillar D399 diesel reciprocating engine generators; and Lockheed Martin is a corporate partner of both the Tandon School of Engineering and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. If implemented, the resolution would go beyond the three companies, according to co-author Rose Asaf.

“You really can’t divest from a nation-state,” said Asaf, who is Senator-at-Large for Marginalized Jewish Students, Student Activists, and Students With Mental Health Struggles. “This isn’t divesting from the state of Israel because you can’t … this is divesting mostly from U.S. corporations.”

Several safety measures will be in place at the vote on Dec. 6. In addition to an increased security presence the vote will be conducted by secret paper ballot due to the possibility of harassment. Twelve students will be allowed to signup beforehand to speak about the resolution, six in support and six against.

Some attendees on Thursday raised concerns about the resolution and voting procedure, including one who asked whether or not it would harm the job prospects of Tandon graduates if the school cut ties with its corporate partner Lockheed Martin. Another said having the voting be done via secret ballot might impede transparency and accountability. Asaf said that senators would individually be allowed to share how they voted if they wanted, and that the resolution was “in the spirit” of transparency and ethics.

“We should be outraged that we have no idea what NYU is invested in,” she said. “The university is not transparent with us.”

Asaf told Local that she and the resolution’s supporters are hopeful about the upcoming vote.

“We are cautiously optimistic because we trust that the voting members of the body will do the right thing.”


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