Above photo: Students hold anti-apartheid week at UCLA in May, 2010.
On Tuesday March 18, 2014, Loyola University Chicago became the first Jesuit University in the United States to pass a student government resolution to divest from companies complicit in aiding the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. The Senate legislation calls upon Loyola University Chicago to remove its holdings from eight specific companies that play active roles in the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government.
The first corporation listed, Caterpillar, sustains the occupation by providing tools and bulldozers to destroy Palestinian infrastructure such as homes, neighborhoods, and agricultural fields. Caterpillar tools also aid in the expansion of illegal settlements as declared by the United Nations. The second corporation, General Electric (GE), manufactures engines used for the same helicopters that violate human rights violations by attacking Palestinian civilians. Hewlitt-Packard Company (HP), similar to the aforementioned companies, also aids in the systemic oppression of Palestine. HP provides discriminatory identification systems used by the Israeli militarycheckpoints and profits from mass incarceration. Group 4 Securicor (G4S), Raytheon, Elbit Systems, SodaStream, and Veolia are the remaining companies that complete the list.
By passing this piece of legislation, the student body at Loyola University Chicago is asking for further and constant examination of Loyola’s assets for future investments. In the policy statement on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), the Board of Trustees claims to commit to a social mission with the promotion of social justice. Divesting from these companies remains true to this statement and ensures that Loyola is not profiting from companies that contradict Jesuit traditions and values.Senator Nashiha Alam supports this in her speech of affirmation by saying, “…the university has a responsibility to filter our investments and have an investment screen. We [the students] are responsible for making these ethical investments.”
Students for Justice in Palestine at Loyola University Chicago (SJP) has been working on a divestment campaign since 2012. After gathering over 800 undergraduate student signatures in support of divestment, SJP introduced the legislation to the Unified Student Government Association (USGA) for deliberation. The Senate meeting was full of outside community supporters as well as current students passionate about the cause. USGA Senator Melinda Bunnage speaks in favor of the Divestment legislation “I think this piece of legislation has potential to be really effective. USGA worries about the community and student support but it’s clear that passing this is very important to our student body.”