When students at Barnard College voted for their new student government leaders last week, 64 percent voted in favor of a resolution supporting the college’s divestment eight companies that “profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians,” according to Columbia University’s Columbia Spectator.
The Spectator also reported that current SGA members will discuss the results of the referendum in a meeting on Monday, April 23, and decide whether it will pen a letter to administrators officially encouraging divestment.
The university published a statement on Wednesday, April 18, responding to the referendum.
“We are aware of the Student Government Association’s referendum on divestment from certain companies doing business with Israel, but we have not received a formal request from SGA related to the outcome,” the statement said. “We are prepared to respond promptly should we receive such a request. As with any student referendum, which is a valuable expression of opinion, the outcome does not compel the College to take a specific action.”
“At Barnard, we work hard to foster a community in which difficult topics can be discussed in an environment free from fear and hate,” the statement continued. “We will continue to work to foster civility as we engage with all student groups.”
The resolution garnered condemnation from StandWithUs, an international organization describing itself as devoted to ensuring “that Israel’s side of the story is told in communities.”
“I am proud of the students who worked so hard to educate their peers in the face of adversity, but deeply disappointed that such a misleading referendum was allowed on the ballot,” StandWithUs Tri-State Campus Director, Rena Nasar, said in a statement. “Given that the wording of the referendum was so biased and deceptive, there is no way this was an accurate measure of student opinion.”