a big glass building with students walking through a lawn in front
J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University. (Photo/Wikimedia-Webbi1987)

S.F. State student government considers BDS resolution

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San Francisco State University’s student government is considering a resolution that calls for the university to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel by pulling out of investments in corporations that do business with Israeli settlements.

The BDS resolution doesn’t name any of the university’s current investments, according to a copy obtained by J. Rather, it refers to a list of more than 100 companies conducting business within the Palestinian territories, including U.S. entities such as Airbnb, General Mills and Expedia, as well as foreign companies. The list was compiled by the United Nations in February.

“[T]hese investments harm San Francisco State’s Palestinian, Arab, Muslim students, many of whom have families who currently live under Israeli occupation, or are descendants of Palestinians who have been killed or forcibly relocated as a result of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” the resolution states.

It’s the first time the S.F. State student government has considered such a motion, according to the resolution’s text, which lists other universities — including San Jose State, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside and Stanford — that have passed similar divestment proposals.

The resolution was conceived by the General Union of Palestine Students at SFSU, a student-run organization dedicated to “increasing awareness of the Palestinian struggle,” according to its Facebook page.

San Francisco Hillel immediately condemned the resolution, calling BDS “incredibly divisive.”

“By suppressing nuanced discussion about Israel and Palestine to a ‘yes or no’ question, BDS prevents students from engaging in critical learning, campus dialogue, and stifles viewpoint diversity,” Rachel Nilson Ralston, S.F. Hillel’s executive director, said in a statement.

Andrew Carrillo, president of the governing board of SFSU’s Associated Students, declined an interview with J., explaining that they are still in the information-gathering phase and not prepared to comment.

University spokesperson Kent Bravo said that S.F. State is “respectful of both the right of the student organization to bring forth a resolution for consideration by Associated Students and of Associated Students’ autonomy and processes.”

GUPS presented the resolution to the student government’s Social Justice and Equity committee on Oct. 13. The committee is scheduled to meet again on Oct. 19 for a possible vote on whether to send the measure to the full student government for consideration and a vote.

GUPS did not respond to J.’s request for comment.

Investments are managed by the university’s endowment, the S.F. State Foundation, which has a 26-member board of directors. In 2014, the group committed to divesting from fossil fuels.

The resolution follows a series of controversies at SFSU surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including a truncated roundtable discussion last month that made international news. Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled was invited by the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies program to speak in a virtual event. After outcry from multiple Jewish groups, Zoom, Facebook and YouTube all ultimately blocked the event from their platforms, stating that it violated their company policies. Weeks later, Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, asked the Department of Justice to investigate the university criminally.


Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler was a staff writer at J. from 2019 to 2021.