Barnard College Alumni Oppose Divestment Urged by Students
Barnard is to Columbia University as Radcliffe was to Harvard – both Cambridge, MA schools fully integrated in 1999.
Barnard and Radcliffe are two so-called Seven Sisters northeastern US liberal arts colleges – Vassar and Radcliffe now co-educational, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, and Wellesley remaining all-female.
Around one-third of Barnard students are Jewish. Last week, the student body voted nearly two -to-one to divest from companies complicit with Israeli human rights violations.
According to the school’s Student Government Association, 59% of students cast ballots, the largest referendum turnout in school history.
In April 2016, an initiative called Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) was launched by Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, along with Barnard/Columbia Jewish Voice for Peace.
It called on Barnard and Columbia to divest from stocks, funds, and other investments in companies profiting from Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights through colonization, militarized occupation, and apartheid.
Student groups supporting the initiative include Barnard-Columbia Socialists, Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, Columbia Muslim Students Association, Columbia Queer Alliance, Columbia University Black Students’ Organization, Columbia University Turath, Divest Barnard from Fossil Fuels, GendeRevolution, No Red Tape, and Student-Worker Solidarity.
CUAD called on school officials and trustees to “tak(e) a stand against regimes that violate basic human rights and the structures by which they are supported,” adding:
“Our institution should not be considered separate from those affected by and complicit in Israeli human rights violations; impacted communities include students, academics, people of color, indigenous people, religious and gender minorities, refugees, Israelis, and Palestinians both in Palestine and its diaspora.”
Caterpillar, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Elbit Systems, Mekorot, Hapoalim, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other companies profiting from occupation harshness makes them complicit with Israeli ruthlessness.
A prominently displayed Barnard campus banner said:
“STAND FOR JUSTICE
STAND FOR PALESTINE”
The CUAD initiative is longterm, persisting despite dark forces contesting it.
BDS activism is perhaps the most important way to challenge ruthless Israeli persecution of Palestinians, denying their fundamental rights, stealing their land and resources, blockading Gaza, murdering nonviolent protesters in cold blood, waging wars of aggression at its discretion.
A Barnard alumni initiative urged school officials to reject the referendum’s results.
An alumni statement expressed “disappoint(ment) with the actions of the Barnard Student Government Association (SGA) regarding the recent divestment referendum,” adding:
“By presenting a nuanced and complex issue as one sided and simple, it has biased the student body and failed in its duty to act as a neutral arbiter.”
The pro-Israel petition called CUAD “hateful,” similar to how the Jewish state responds to justifiable criticism.
A Monday Barnard student council vote is scheduled on whether to accept the referendum results.
If approved as seems likely, school trustees will be formally asked to divest from companies profiting from apartheid viciousness.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”