This past week, Students for Justice in Palestine at ASU introduced the first version of a bill, SB 67, calling for ASU to divest from Caterpillar, Inc to the Undergraduate Student Government Senate of Tempe campus on Tuesday, March 22nd. The bill is titled “A Resolution to Divest from Caterpillar, Inc. for its Human Rights Abuses in Palestine.”
After gathering at least 25 supporters in the room and amassing over 500 signatures of ASU students on a petition in support of the bill, the bill was inexplicably “tabled indefinitely,” denying any form of transparent debate to attendees. A similar number of people were gathered in the room opposing the bill, representing groups like Sun Devils for Israel and Hillel, and included speakers who were identified as Emerson Fellows. Emerson Fellows are students chosen by the pro-Israel group StandWithUs for a “one-year fellowship program that recruits, trains, educates, and inspires pro-Israel college students to become an elite cadre of leaders on college campuses across North America…[and] form a network of trained pro-Israel student leaders.”
Despite SB 67 being the only bill on the agenda, the Senate proceeded to have an hour long discussion over the removal of a senator from his position as committee chair for unrelated reasons. Meeting attendees watched as accusations about the senator’s leadership were aired, with certain members questioning the political motives of the accusers in light of the senator’s candidacy in the student government’s presidential campaign. Before the meeting concluded, supporters and opponents of the bill spoke during Open Forum about the events that took place. SJP members criticized senators for engaging in a frivolous debate about matters with little significance to students while choosing to shut down any debate on the divestment bill. In addition, our members indicated our intention to introduce a revised version of the bill in the future, which we would hope senators would allow to be debated in the spirit of transparency and free speech.
In anticipation of further divestment efforts, SJP hosted a discussion of the bill following this meeting on Thursday, March 20th. Several members gave brief a presentation on the reasons behind calling for divestment from Caterpillar, Inc. and answered questions from the audience, composed of leaders of student organizations and interested students.
For more information and videos of our divestment campaign, see our divestment facebook Likes page: https://www.facebook.com/ASUSJPdeCAT
The state press coverage of the Senate meeting is here: http://www.statepress.com/2014/03/18/undergraduate-student-government-members-discuss-divestment-bill-removal-of-sen-parra/