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Anti-Semitism: Campus Divestment Resolutions in the USA

(2005-2017)

The first BDS resolutions were proposed in student governments in 2005-6, of the four introduced, two passed and two were defeated. Only five other resolutions were proposed in the following five academic years combined and three of those were defeated. The campaign began to take off in 2012-13 with 10 resolutions (six were defeated), followed by 19 in 2013-14 (12 were defeated) and 27 in 2014-15 (20 were defeated). Since that upsurge, the movement has shown signs of petering out.

In the last 12 years (2005-2017):

  • A total of 106 votes have been taken on BDS measures – 67 were defeated (63%).
  • Those votes were limited to a total of 65 schools, less than 3% of America’s four-year colleges. (I count the California Community College Association as one college and exclude the UC Student Association which has no power and represents no individual schools).
  • Only 32 schools have approved a BDS resolution in the last 12 years (30 if graduate students are excluded), which represents about 1% of universities.
  • A total of 47 schools have rejected BDS (there is some overlap as some of these have adopted BDS in other years) .
  • A total of 26 schools had two or more votes; 9 schools had three or more (Ohio State, Berkeley, Davis, Riverside, UCSB, UCSD, UCSC, Michigan, Dearborn), and 4 schools had four (Michigan, Michigan Dearborn, UC Riverside and UCSD)
  • Only 5 schools (Michigan Dearborn, UC San Diego, UC Irvine,  UC Riverside, and UC Davis) have passed BDS more than once.
  • Of the 65 schools that voted on BDS, 10 were ranked in the top 20 and 10 of 14 (71%) resolutions were defeated.
  • A total of 19 schools in the top 50 entertained BDS initiatives and 23 of 37 were defeated (62%).

The movement has grown, but it is not sweeping the nation, and it definitely is not winning. Even the handful of divestment resolutions that were adopted by students have no authority and administrators have repeatedly made clear they have no intention of divesting from Israel. In fact, many of the same schools (e.g., UCI) dramatically increased cooperation with Israel after the votes. Overall, about 97% percent of American campuses have had no divestment votes and have little or no BDS activity.

Results of Campus BDS Resolutions 2005-2017

School 2016-17 2015-16 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-9 2007-8 2006-7 2005-6
Arizona State (Downtown campus)       FAILED   FAILED            
Arizona State University       FAILED                
Bowdoin College     FAILED                  
Brown University                       FAILED1
California Community College Student Senate     FAILED                  
Cal State Long Beach PASSED FAILED19                    
Columbia FAILED                      
Cornell University       FAILED                
De Anza College PASSED                      
DePaul University     FAILED PASSED2                
Earlham College     PASSED                  
Evergreen State College           PASSED          
Florida Atlantic University (FAU)     FAILED                  
George Washington University FAILED   FAILED                  
Georgetown FAILED21                      
Grand Valley State    FAILED                    
Harvard University     FAILED                  
Marquette University     FAILED3                  
Montclair State FAILED                      
New York University Graduate Union   FAILED18                    
Northeastern University   FAILED FAILED                  
Northwestern University   FAILED19 PASSED                  
Oberlin College24         PASSED              
Pitzer College PASSED22                      
Oglethorpe University     PASSED                  
Portland State PASSED FAILED20                    
Princeton University (Undergrad)     FAILED                  
Rutgers University -Newark   PASSED FAILED                  
San Diego State University     FAILED FAILED                
San Jose State   PASSED                    
Scripps College FAILED                      
Stanford University     PASSED4   FAILED              
The Graduate Center, CUNY   PASSED18 FAILED                  
The Ohio State University FAILED FAILED FAILED                  
Tufts FAILED22/23                      
University of California, Berkeley       PASSED5 FAILED   FAILED          
University of California, Davis     PASSED6 FAILED PASSED              
University of California, Irvine       PASSED PASSED              
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)     PASSED FAILED                
University of California, Merced   PASSED FAILED                  
University of California, Riverside PASSED   FAILED PASSED7 FAILED8              
University of California, Santa Barbara FAILED   FAILED FAILED FAILED              
University of California, San Diego       PASSED PASSED FAILED FAILED          
University of California, Santa Cruz   PASSED12   FAILED FAILED              
University of Chicago   PASSED                    
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign FAILED                      
University of Illinois at Chicago   FAILED19                    
University of Indianapols   PASSED15                    
Loyola University, Chicago     PASSED FAILED9                
University of Massachussetts, Amherst   FAILED             FAILED10      
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Graduate Employee Organization / UAW 2322)   PASSED18                    
University of Massachussetts, Boston           PASSED            
University of Michigan FAILED   FAILED FAILED   FAILED           FAILED11 
University of Michigan Dearborn PASSED FAILED16   PASSED     PASSED       PASSED PASSED
University of Minnesota   FAILED17                    
University of New Mexico (Undergrad)     FAILED FAILED                
University of South Florida   FAILED14     FAILED              
University of Texas, Austin     FAILED                  
University of Washington       FAILED                
University of Washington Grads   PASSED18                    
University of Toledo #3     FAILED                  
University of Wisconsin-Madison  PASSED15                      
University of Wisconsin, Plattesville                       PASSED
Vassar   PASSED13                    
Wesleyan University FAILED   FAILED PASSED                
1 Brown 2006 - No vote, activist proposal to investment comm that failed
22014 Passed, vetoed, passed
3 2015 Marquette passed a divestment bill after removing references to Israel.
4 2015 failed then passed 
5 2014 A section of the resolution was  later found invalid 
6 2015 passed then failed on technicality, then past again
7 2014 failed then passed
8 2013 passed then revoked
9 2014 passed then vetoed
10 Divestment was tabled but a comm was set up to divest from compnies more generally
11 Michigan Student Senate vote
12 Reversed veto of 2014 divestment resolution
13 Passed divestment rejected Hummas boycott
14 Won, was vetoed, won again but ruled unconstitutional
15 Defeated first time then passed
16 Dearborne has had most votes, 2016 first time defeated
17 Defeated twice
Passed then vetoed
Faculty Senate vote 
**Student run comm on corp responsibility
In 2009 under pressure from anti-Israel activists Hampshire college divested from a mutual fund with Israeli holdings but denied the decision was boycott related
Berkeley passed res, it was vetoed and sustained
In 2010 DePaul and Princeton boycotted Sabra Hummus but that was reversed.
Georgetown did not have a vote, activists simply met with investment board in 2011
2015 Western Washington Preemptively votes against all boycotts
2015 UC Student Association (UCSA) Not counted as a campus - but did pass divestment
182015-2016 Did not count grad student votes supporting BDS at CUNY, Umass and NYU (which was reversed by UAW)
19Passed watered own version that wasn't anti--Israel - counted as victories
20Tabled
21Investment Committee ejected divestment; it was not a student govt resolution
22Vote on Eve of Passover at Tufts on Passover at Pitzer when Jewish students were gone
23Admin rescinded
24Trustees announced they would not divest from Israel in 2015 http://oberlinreview.org/9008/news/board-rejects-student-divestment-proposals/

Source: AICE