Divestment bill fails at U.C. Davis

The U.C. Davis student senate rejected a divestment resolution last week calling for the boycott of three companies accused of aiding “illegal settlements in Palestinian territories” and violating Palestinian human rights.

The vote ended in a 5-5 tie with two abstensions. Maxwell Kappes, the student government vice president, declined to break the tie and abstained instead.

The May 9 vote came at 2 a.m. after hours of debate. The resolution called on the University of California Board of Regents to “undertake practices of corporate social responsibility through divesting from corporations that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” citing Caterpillar Inc., G4S PLC and Veolia Environnement as actively committing human rights violations against Palestinians.

The bill accused U.S.-based Caterpillar of providing the Israeli military with bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian property, the United Kingdom’s G4S of providing technology to Israeli personnel at checkpoints that impeded Palestinians’ “freedom of movement and transportation,” and the French resource-management company Veolia of using its subsidiaries to transfer waste from Israel into Palestinian territories.

This was the first time a BDS resolution came to a vote at U.C. Davis. It is the fourth divestment resolution brought to a vote at U.C. campuses this year.

A resolution failed at U.C. Santa Barbara (16-8) and narrowly passed at U.C. Riverside (8-7) on the same day last month. A similar resolution at UCLA failed in February (7-5).

U.C. Berkeley and U.C. San Diego both passed divestment resolutions last year, while measures failed at U.C. Santa Cruz and Stanford. Riverside’s student senate passed a BDS bill in 2013 before voting to rescind it a month later.

U.C. Irvine passed a divestment measure in 2012, as did the University of California Student Association, which represents 230,000 students in the 10-campus system.

In 2010, U.C. Berkeley was the first California school to pass a divestment resolution, but it was vetoed a week after the initial vote. — jon roisman