The ASUO Senate passed a resolution Wednesday night in a 12-to-six vote to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led movement. The resolution encourages the University of Oregon to boycott companies that proponents of the resolution say support the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The resolution is available here.
Over 200 students showed up to debate their respective sides and hear the senate discuss the decision. Students from groups such as the TAMID Group at Oregon, Oregon Hillel and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights came to the senate meeting and expressed why they thought the resolution should or should not pass.
The student group Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) first proposed the resolution at last Wednesday’s senate meeting, and 30 student organizations have endorsed it so far. Similar resolutions have passed at colleges across the nation, such as at Portland State University in 2016.
ASUO Senator Montse Mendez Higuera, who voted to pass the resolution, said that there is a possibility the ASUO Constitutional Court — ASUO’s judicial branch — could strike the resolution down in the fall because the resolution is not “viewpoint neutral,” according to several ASUO senators. Mendez added that student groups were aware of this but still wanted to continue pushing on either side of the resolution to see the senate’s stance.
She said that students “wanted to see the senate actually take a stance on something.”
Several students who were against the passing of the resolution said they were worried about the possibility of a rise in the number of anti-semitic crimes committed on campus. One study conducted by AMCHA Initiative, a pro-Jewish organization, found that higher rates of anti-semitic crimes correlate with BDS activity on college campuses with large Jewish populations.
Attendees had 30 minutes of public forum at the beginning of the senate meeting in which those participants who wanted to speak had the chance to speak for two minutes. After senators discussed financial business, they opened the floor to debate on the BDS resolution.
Senators later voted to extend debate time twice — which was first limited to a single 20-minute period — adding up to one hour of total debate. Attendees had two minutes of time to speak about the resolution, and several students were reprimanded for going off topic.
Several senators also took up the microphone and expressed their thoughts. Internal Vice President Tess Mor said that this resolution was brought up at the last minute and was concerned that there had been “less than a week” to discuss the resolution, urging senators to vote against the resolution.
Junior Max Hoots supports the BDS resolution, but he said that coming to Wednesday’s senate meeting and seeing how emotional of an issue this was for people on the other side of it made him “take a step back,” yet he added that he was happy the resolution passed and that people got to share their opinions.
“I don’t want to see people upset, even if I think they’re wrong,” Hoots said.