Divestment Battle Concludes With Failed Effort to Override Veto

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The controversial divestment bill cannot be voted on again.

The ASUC Senate upheld the veto of a bill targeting companies involved in alleged Israeli war crimes at its meeting on Wednesday night, ending a six-week-long debate that attracted international attention.

In order to override President Will Smelko's March 24 veto of the bill, supporters of the bill needed a two-thirds majority vote of all elected senators, but the 13-5-1 vote tallied at the meeting fell short. Student Action Senator Anish Gala was not present for the vote.

Student Action Senator Minji Kim said she abstained because she believed the bill's effect reaches wider than its intention of divestment from General Electric and United Technologies.

She said that all senators should have abstained and that a yes or no vote would be taking a specific student group's side.

"We're not supposed to vote in favor of one student voice that may be louder than another," Kim said.

The bill urged the student government and the University of California to divest from the two companies because they supply the Israeli military with materials used in alleged war crimes.

SQUELCH! party Senator Emily Carlton, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the bill had brought different campus communities together.

"When someone is saying that this bill has been bad for our community--for our campus climate--I have to, respectfully of course, disagree, because what is the point of having student groups on campus?" Carlton said.

However, Student Action Senator Parth Bhatt, an opponent of the bill, said that the bill unfairly singles out Israel.

"I personally disagree that this is just an issue regarding divestment from war crimes," he said.

Bhatt added that if the bill were about war crimes, the senate would be divesting from all weapons manufacturers and from all countries accused of engaging in human rights violations.

During the allotted two hours for public comment, proponents of the bill­--who made up a majority of people signed up for public comment--said that if the veto was upheld, they would feel marginalized and that the university would be supporting alleged war crimes. Opponents of the bill said they would feel discriminated against if the veto was overridden.

The senators went into discussion an hour after public comment ended and made their vote at about 4:00 a.m. Thursday.

After hearing the final tally, CalSERVE Senator Rahul Patel addressed the audience, saying that although the veto was not overridden, the "movement" that began in the senate will continue.

"Our stories are seeds and we sow them throughout the world," said Patel. "And the world has heard our stories, and that is what matters."


Contact Allie Bidwell and Nick Myers at [email protected]

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