Correction Appended

The student government at the University’s Flint campus has passed a resolution to encourage the University Board of Regents to look into investments that they determine to be ethically questionable.

Bishr Al-Dabagh, president of the Flint Student Government, said the Flint proposal was successful because it did not include clauses that targeted one specific country or region of the world.

“If it does anything, it might open the eyes of the regents to the examination of their investments; it may open their eyes to the ethical implications of the investments,” he said.

A resolution about divestment was brought before the Michigan Student Assembly last month that included clauses condemning Israeli violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. While these clauses were struck down in the process of the vote, the remaining clauses called for the MSA External Relations Committee to send a letter urging the University Board of Regents to create an advisory committee to investigate the moral and ethical implications of the University’s investments in companies that directly support the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Proponents of the resolution attribute this to the fact that many people saw the resolution as a direct attack on Israel.

Carmel Salhi, president of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, who sponsored the resolution in Ann Arbor, said that a major setback to the resolution was the very difficult opposition it faced on campus from those opposed to divestment from Israel, due to what seemed to be confusion about the nature of the resolution, Salhi said.

“There was a misleading campaign led by the opponents of the resolution,” Salhi said. “We wanted an investigative committee that would look into Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” he said.

RC senior Matt Hollerbach, a former MSA representative echoed Salhi, saying that this same type of opposition was seen within MSA as well.

“I think that the opinion expressed by (former MSA president) Jason Mironov, (MSA President) Jesse Levine and others in MSA confused the issue and caused a lot of assembly members to think that if they were supporting the issue, they were condemning Israel,” Hollerbach said. He added that Mironov and Levine have the authority to deliver their opinion of the proposal prior to MSA’s vote. “Unlike other members of the assembly, both can give an executive report,” he said, which Mironov used to garner support against the resolution.

Hollerbach said that Mironov and Levine had an impact on the failing of the resolution because they are both respected leaders in the campus and more specifically in the Jewish community. “I think that people within MSA really galvanized support for their views on this issue,” he added.

Levine disagreed with Hollerbach and said that the resolution was rejected for unfairly singling out Israel.

“Singling out Israel does not make sense given the recent development in the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Levine said.

Levine disagreed with Hollerbach’s accusation that executive members had a heavy influence on the vote.

“Speakers on all sides of the issue had a fair opportunity to express their opinions,” Levine said.

Al-Dabagh added that the success of the Flint resolution could be attributed to the fact that it asks the University to look at a set of five or six ethical questions pertaining to arms and human rights violations. Unlike the resolution that was voted down in Ann Arbor, the Flint resolution did not propose that the University create a committee to look at investments — another factor that Al-Dabagh said contributed to the resolution’s success.

“All it does is ask the Board of Regents to look at their investments,” he said.

Al-Dabagh said he will send a copy of the resolution that passed in the Flint Student Government to the University’s Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses in order to rally support from students and student governments.

“I hope that this will be successful,” Al-Dabagh said, adding that “you shouldn’t expect change overnight.”

Despite the failed efforts to pass a divestment resolution in Ann Arbor, Salhi said he has not given up.

“I’m not discouraged — when you consider the fact that MSA was just one of the options to go through,” Salhi said.

Salhi said that according to the official University purchasing policy, a significant portion of the student body must find the investments morally or ethically questionable.

“We have that … Now it is up to the regents” Salhi said.

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