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NUDivest introduces divestment resolution at ASG Senate

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NUDivest introduces divestment resolution at ASG Senate

Weinberg junior Noah Whinston fields questions from students at Wednesday’s meeting. The students introduced a resolution calling on the University to divest from six corporations the group says violate Palestinians’ human rights.

Weinberg junior Noah Whinston fields questions from students at Wednesday’s meeting. The students introduced a resolution calling on the University to divest from six corporations the group says violate Palestinians’ human rights.

Sophie Mann/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg junior Noah Whinston fields questions from students at Wednesday’s meeting. The students introduced a resolution calling on the University to divest from six corporations the group says violate Palestinians’ human rights.

Sophie Mann/The Daily Northwestern

Sophie Mann/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg junior Noah Whinston fields questions from students at Wednesday’s meeting. The students introduced a resolution calling on the University to divest from six corporations the group says violate Palestinians’ human rights.

Shane McKeon, Assistant Campus Editor

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Associated Student Government on Wednesday considered a Northwestern Divest-sponsored resolution calling for the University to divest from corporations the group says violate Palestinians’ human rights.

Students crowded the room to hear four members of NUDivest, a student movement calling on NU to divest from six corporations the group believes the University is invested in, field questions about the resolution for about 25 minutes from ASG senators and attendees.

Weinberg junior Noah Whinston did most of the speaking for the group.

“Northwestern University is an institution that lags behind its peer schools when it comes to transparency in its investment policies,” Whinston said.

He cited Yale University and Columbia University as schools that have committees comprising students, faculty and alumni that supervise investment. Other universities have social responsibility policies that discourage them from investing in corporations that the student body and administrators find “morally questionable,” which NU does not have, he said.

“But, even if it did, that policy would be completely unenforceable because there is no transparency when it comes to how our endowment is invested,” Whinston said. “Northwestern University manages its endowment for the good of the students and the institution. So if we as students have moral problems with how that endowment is invested, we should be able to at least see how the University is using it.”

A sub-committee within the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee provides oversight on the University’s investment policy “with respect to social issues,” according to the Investment Office’s website. However, the office does not release information on its investments, so it is unclear if it is actually invested in the six corporations NUDivest focuses on.

Throughout the question and answer session, Whinston stressed that NUDivest does not have a stance on many of the political issues that define the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including whether a solution should include one or two states.

“NUDivest has no organizational or official position on any sort of political nature to this conflict,” Whinston said. “We are a purely human rights-based campaign. We do not take a political stance on anything.”

One senator expressed concern that, if the resolution passed, some students would feel uncomfortable on campus, due to a clause in the resolution that includes a reference to Palestinian civil society’s call for “boycotts, divestment and sanctions.”

Weinberg freshman Yusuf Kudaimi, one of the four students who spoke in favor of the resolution, pushed back.

“I highly doubt anyone’s discomfort from this resolution passing is in any way near the discomfort felt by a farmer who’s had his olive trees uprooted, or someone who’s had their home bulldozed by a Caterpillar bulldozer,” he said.

No one formally spoke against the resolution during the question and answer session. Formal debate on the resolution will be held next week, after which senators will vote.

After the Q-and-A, a student from Divest Northwestern spoke and apologized for the confusing nominal similarity. DivestNU is lobbying the University to divest from the coal industry and will hold a “day of action” Friday, Weinberg sophomore Christina Cilento, ASG vice president of sustainability, said.

Four students also spoke Wednesday in favor of a resolution that would compel NU to embrace the Real Food Campus Commitment, a national movement whose goal is “to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources —what we call ‘real food’ — by 2020,” according to its website.

The resolution passed.

Email: ShaneM@u.northwestern.edu

Twitter: @Shane_McKeon

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