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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

TCU Senate to vote Sunday on genocide acknowledgment, university divestment

The Coalition for Palestinian Liberation proposed four resolution drafts to TCU Senate targeting university connections to Israel.

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The Joyce Cummings Center is pictured on Feb. 22, 2023.

On Sunday, the Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts introduced four full-text resolutions to the Tufts Community Union Senate which, if passed, will call on the Office of the President and other senior leadership to acknowledge Israel’s continued assault on Gaza and to end all ties to the country. Senators will vote on finalized versions of all four resolutions at next week’s meeting, just two weeks after the introduction of abstracts on Feb. 18.

“The Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts has introduced these four TCU Senate resolutions to emphasize the importance of institutional boycott and divestment from Israel at multiple administrative levels,” CPLT wrote in a statement to the Daily. “These resolutions demonstrate that any and all measures that the university and its officials can take to end Tufts’ complicity in Israel’s genocide on Gaza are crucial to the broader goals of the [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement.”

While resolutions are all based on the shared premise of Israel’s human rights violations, each of the four takes a different approach to cut the university’s ties to the country.

The first, S.24-1, calls on Tufts Global Education to end approval for external study abroad programs in Israel. According to the Global Education website, the school currently approves programs at Ben Gurion University of Negev, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, University of Haifa, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University.

S.24-1 “urges Tufts University to end its study abroad programs in Israel indefinitely” and “to

not approve or offer new study abroad programs in Israel.” The resolution, if passed, will solicit a written response from Tufts Global Education within two weeks.

The second, S.24-2, calls for Tufts Dining to end the sale of Sabra, Pillsbury and other products connected to Israel at Tufts. In its proposal, CPLT explained the reasoning behind this request.

“Sabra has documented ties to human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian

Territories. It is ‘a joint venture between PepsiCo and the Strauss Group, a multinational corporation and Israel’s largest food and beverage company.’ ... The Strauss Group has materially supported the Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. … Pillsbury, a food manufacturing corporation owned by General Mills, operates a factory in the Atarot Industrial Zone. … The factory has displaced Palestinians and profits off of their land, water, and other resources,’” the resolution reads.

The resolution “urges the Tufts Dining office to stop selling any Israeli products immediately and indefinitely” and requests a written response from Tufts Dining within two weeks.

CPLT’s third resolution, S.24-3, demands that “[University President Sunil Kumar], Deans, and Provosts release a statement both recognizing [and] condemning the Ongoing Genocide in Gaza.” The resolution further calls on the administration to “release a statement apologizing for their previous statements” and “urges the Office of the President and the Deans of the school to hold a public open meeting with the Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts.”

The resolution asserts that the “Tufts Administration and President have made several biased statements in the Fall semester of 2023 about the ongoing genocide, under the name of ‘Israel-Hamas War.’” Last semester, the university put out several emails addressing the conflict, and Kumar released a video message on campus discourse at the beginning of the spring semester.

In this resolution, the coalition requests a written response from the university president, deans and provosts within two weeks.

The final resolution, S.24-4, takes specific aim at the school’s investment portfolio.

S.24-4 “urges the Tufts University investment office to immediately disclose all investments, with emphasis on any and all direct and indirect investments in companies based in or which profit from partnership with Israel.” The resolution urges the university “to divest from Israeli Companies [and] to divest from companies invested in Israeli Apartheid and with ties to Israel.”

S.24-4, as well as S.24-3, cite a TCU Senate resolution passed in 2017, titled “A Resolution Calling for Tufts University to End Investments in The Israeli Occupation.” Despite this, the university has continually reiterated its opposition to the BDS movement and has not publicly shared its full investment portfolio.

“With Tufts continuing to not comply with this resolution, we reiterate that it is more important than ever that we do not invest in companies that provide weapons to Israel, or any Israeli companies that are built on stolen Palestinian land,” CPLT wrote in the S.24-4 abstract. “Many groups on campus have expressed concern over the Administration’s refusal to disclose what investments they hold in Israel and companies tied to it. We are also concerned about other investments that Tufts holds, which do not comply with their ‘Anti-racist’ promise, and, in this sense, we are asking for the investment office to disclose all the investments they have so that all students are made aware of where tuition dollars are spent.”

Both S.24-3 and S.24-4 also reference Tufts’ divestment from South Africa during apartheid, in response to student and faculty activism.

“Just as students fought for and ultimately won Tufts’ divestment from apartheid South Africa, Tufts students are once again fighting for the university’s divestment from apartheid, occupation, and genocide; by making clear the specific ways in which the university is complicit, these resolutions also make clear that divestment is entirely actionable, and that the student body demands these tangible steps be taken against the occupation of Palestine,” CPLT wrote in its statement to the Daily.

S.24-4 requests a written response from Tufts Investment Office and the Office of the Board of Advisors within two weeks.

“Resolutions are a vehicle for students at Tufts to advocate for a given change and may be proposed by anyone in the Tufts Community Union,” the TCU Senate Executive Board wrote in a statement to the Daily. “This extensive and exhaustive process allows for students to propose reform which then, based on the vote, is directed towards administration or the appropriate management at Tufts. While the Senate takes necessary steps to follow up, the final onus rests on the administration and management, not us.”

Class of 2026 Senator Anand Patil reiterated that the Senate will carefully examine each of the four resolutions, asking questions and debating before finally voting.

 “These resolutions will bring strong opinions and feelings from many members of our community, so all who are planning to attend are strongly urged to treat the resolution process, TCU Senators, and fellow students with the utmost respect and civility,” Patil wrote in a message to the Daily.

Senators will vote on the four resolutions at next week’s open meeting, taking place on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Joyce Cummings Center in rooms 160 and 170. 

Matthew Sage contributed reporting.