Schools across the globe accede to student demands to divest from Israel

Universities and colleges across the globe are responding to student protests against the war in Gaza by striking deals with protestors to take steps toward divesting from Israel.

While some schools have shut down anti-war protests using police force, others are working with student-led organizations to address divestment, disclose endowment information, and schedule school boards to vote on defunding companies linked to Israel.

University endowments can run up to billions of dollars and are often less transparent about their direct or indirect investments.Though the protestors’ demands vary from institute to institute, broadly speaking, they are seeking a full disclosure into the investments made by the institutions and want them to divest from weapons manufacturers or other companies that profit from the ongoing war in Gaza, as well as from Israeli institutions themselves.

Here is a list of institutions that have agreed to students’ demands:

University of California, Riverside

This university has agreed to be transparent about its investments, set up a task force to consider removing trust funds from weapons manufacturing companies, and shut down its study abroad programs in Israel.

The agreement includes posting all public information on university investments to the school’s website, creating a task force that will include students and faculty to explore the removal of the school’s endowment from the management of the University of California Investment’s Office and manage the endowment financially and ethically with regard to companies involved in arms manufacturing, the school said in a statement on Friday.

The university has also agreed to modify its study abroad program “to ensure compliance with UC’s Anti-Discriminatory Policies” and said its business school has discontinued multiple “global programs,” including the one that took students to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

“This is not the end for Palestinian advocacy at UCR, this is not the end of UCR’s complicity,” organizers said in a social media post celebrating the agreement. “We will continue to hold our administration accountable.”

Northwestern University

The university has agreed to disclose its investments, provide scholarships to five new Palestinian students, and establish community spaces for Muslim and Middle Eastern/North African students.

The school has also agreed to allow students to continue peaceful encampments until June 1.

Four days after the university police tried to dismantle the protests, the school administration reached an agreement that affirmed students’ free speech rights and reestablished the school’s Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility to engage with the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees.

The school also said it would fund visiting “at risk” Palestinian faculty and students and provide additional support for Jewish and Muslim students within faith-focused campus offices.

“This agreement represents a sustainable and de-escalated path forward, and enhances the safety of all members of the Northwestern community while providing space for free expression that complies with University rules and policies,” said a statement from President Michael Schill, Provost Kathleen Hagerty, and Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Davis.

Brown University

Students at Brown have agreed to take down their tents in exchange for the university board voting on Israel divestment later this year. The agreement includes a board vote this fall on students’ divestment proposal and a guarantee that campus affiliates who participated in the encampment protest will not face expulsion or suspension.

In a statement, Brown President Christina Paxson said students had agreed to end their protests and clear their camp and “refrain from further actions that would violate Brown’s conduct code through the end of the academic year.”

In turn, “five students will be invited to meet five members of the Corporation of Brown University in May to present their arguments to divest Brown’s endowment from ‘companies enabling and profiting from the genocide in Gaza’.”

Student protestors jumped for joy upon hearing the news of the deal and chanted “With love not fear, divestment is getting near” before beginning to remove their tents, an AFP report said.

“We are ending (the encampment), knowing that we made a huge victory for divestment at Brown, for this international movement and a victory for the people of Palestine,” the news agency cited Brown student Leo Corzo-Clark as saying.

Evergreen State College

Students and administrators at Evergreen State College, a public college in Washington, agreed to create a task force for “socially responsible investing” and provide transparency around investments.

Evergreen is the alma mater of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by Israeli troops in 2003 as she protested the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza.

Last week, the school issued a memorandum of understanding, furnishing a list of committees including students, faculty, and university staff, focused on defining socially responsible investment and addressing divestment from companies that profit from human rights violations and occupation of Palestinian Territories.

Evergreen has also issued a statement, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. The school has pledged not to approve study abroad programs to Israel, Gaza, or the West Bank and to regions where students are denied entry based on their religious identity.

Trinity College, Dublin

The school has pledged to divest from Israeli companies listed on a United Nations “blacklist” after only four days of student protests. The college plans to establish a task force to review connections with Israeli Institutions.

“Trinity will complete a divestment from investments in Israeli companies that have activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and appear on the UN blacklist,” the school said in a statement. “Trinity will endeavor to divest from investments in other Israeli companies.”

Trinity’s supplier list contains just one Israeli company, which will remain until March 2025 for contractual reasons, said the statement.

University of Barcelona

The university’s council voted to break ties with Israeli institutions and research centers following pressure from student protests.

The vote called for the university to break all institutional and academic ties with Israel, including centers, research institutes, companies, and other institutions in the country.
The result was 59-23 in favor of the motion, with 37 abstentions.

“This is a big step forward in our fight in solidarity with the Palestinian people at universities,” student council member Pablo Castilla was quoted as saying by the Catalan News Agency (ACN) after the result of the vote.

The approved motion will now be laid before the Board of Directors and the Governing Council of the university.

Other institutions that have successfully negotiated with student protestors, demanding transparency and disinvestment from Israel, include SUNY Purchase College, University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, and New Brunswick.

The student-led protests are rooted in the BDS movement that stands for boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions. Pro-Palestinian movements have demanded BDS since 2005.

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