Student organizers begin divestment campaign at Columbia University

Student at Columbia University and Barnard College formed Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CAUD), which demands the university remove its investments from companies that are profiting from Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine.

CUAD wants the university to stop doing business with Caterpillar, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Elbit Systems, Mekorot, Hapoalim, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

“We recognize the shared interests that individuals at both institutions have in pressuring our administrations to stop supporting the state of Israel’s ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid law via their stocks, funds, and endowment. We recognize that, united with each other, we have much more power in holding the administration accountable in this way than we would individually,” Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) member Jeff Jacobs told Palestine in America.

Barnard College student and Columbia SJP member Jannine Salman said the coalition is working to change campus opinion and increase student support to ensure a victory.

“We are looking forward to working closely with select student allies and groups to further explore and inform others on the connections in global systems of oppression. This means we will not only use our campaign as a platform to discuss expropriation of indigenous resources and water rights in Palestine, but [CUAD will be] looking at the ongoing situation in Flint as well and discussing the water, the state, and the relation with different marginalized communities. Our BDS campaign is not only an end in itself, but a means to discussing other issues and developing relations with varied groups on campus,” Salman said.

Jacobs and Salman agreed that starting a divestment campaign this year was inspired by the momentum of the global movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions and Columbia’s recent divestment from the private prison industry..

“Columbia was the first Ivy [League School] to divest from South African Apartheid in 1985. 30 years later in 2015, Columbia became the first institution in the entire country to divest from the private prison industry. We believe it is time for Columbia to, once again, stand true to its principles of human dignity and take a stance against the abuse of Palestinian human rights,” Salman said.

Whether or not Columbia embraces divestment, the student organizers plan to continue raising awareness on their campuses and continue to support the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

Eman Samara

Eman Samara is a Palestinian-American from Chicago. She is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is an active member of the Palestinian Children Relief Fund and To Rebuild Gaza campaign.

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