A.S. Hears Lengthy Public Input, Discusses Divestment Resolution

Though I’ve been in a bystander-only position all year long, tonight reminded me just how frustrating it is to listen in on A.S. meetings as a non-voting member.

The source of my despair this time around was a 2 1/2 –hour public comment session about the “Resolution in Support of Peace and Neutrality Through UC Divestment From U.S. Corporations Profiting from Occupation,” which would have condemned human rights’ violations and advocated the university pulling its funds from companies that make money off selling weapons.

A.S. councilmembers patiently listened to over 70 members of the public that pleaded one way or the other, with some arguing that the resolution targeted Israel and others claiming that it was completely neutral.

Tritons for Israel, in particular, were outraged over the perceived attack on their home country. Though the legislation carefully avoided the word “Israel,” they said that it was clearly aimed at the Palestinian-Israel conflict and only increased campus division on the issue.

Palestinian students — with some supporters from the Jewish community — urged council to pass the resolution because it’s a “matter of human rights,” not nationality.

Mac Zilber, the A.S. Director of Policy Initiatives, brought the whole issue into perspective by throwing out some facts that hadn’t been previously mentioned.

According to Zilber, not a single penny of student fees goes towards General Electric capital – contrary to the beliefs of those present, UC money does not go to fund “weapons and war.”

“G.E. puts out movies like Twilight: New Moon, I kid you not. This issue has been blown way out of proportion,” Zilber said.

While giving his own special presentation on the council’s potential contribution to “this generation’s Vietnam War,” Campuswide Senator Adam Kenworthy found himself getting a little emotional.

“If you pass or fail this tonight, then where will you be tomorrow? Are you going to put words to actions?” Kenworthy said. “If you’re going to serve baloney then you need to be prepared to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Furthermore, AVP Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh gathered personal video responses to the UCSD discussion on the conflict from Anna Balthazar and Hedy Epstein, two well-known Jewish women who support the resolution for divestment.

After the presentations, Campuswide Senator Katie Hall motioned to table the resolution indefinitely.

This motion in itself spurred another hour or so — it’s hard to keep track of time when the subject’s going in circles — of debate. This time, however, the argument centered on whether or not the issue is even worthy of discussion at the council meeting.

Given the massive amount of people who turned up for public input — some even forced to stand outside in the cold, with their noses pressed hopefully against the sliding-glass doors — many councilmembers disapproved of dismissing the resolution until the next council meeting.

“Last time I checked, ASUCSD was not the United Nations. Everyone can come back next week,” Campuswide Senator Carli Thomas retorted.

The unusually quiet A.S. President Utsav Gupta finally chimed in at this point, advocating for tabling the motion. His logic, as he explained it, was that whether or not A.S. passes the resolution tonight, only some people are going to leave the room happy.

Despite the president’s two cents, the council failed the motion to table indefinitely, 13-16-2.

Having decided to vote on the resolution tonight, councilmembers began discussing amendments to the legislation — after a much-needed ten-minute recess, the discussion continued into the night.

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