Earlier today, the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC), Pomona College’s student governing body, passed a modified version of its previous resolution to boycott companies listed by the United Nations as active in Israeli West Bank settlements. The version of the resolution passed by ASPC today removed the hotly contested final clause that was the subject of serious debate at ASPC’s meeting last week. The current resolution governs only internal ASPC spending, not club-related expenses.
The now-removed final clause read as follows: “ASPC calls upon the other Claremont Colleges Student Government Associations to follow suit, with the end goal of an ultimate adoption of a Consortium-wide agreement to ban clubs from using student government allocations to invest in or purchase goods or services from companies that contribute to the settlement and occupation of Palestinian occupied territories by the UN-designated companies or the Israeli state. Clubs that fail to divest and/or refrain from such uses of funding would face the loss of all Claremont Colleges Student Government Association funds.”
In the meeting today, one ASPC senator said that he had spent the week between the two meetings speaking with students about their feelings on the resolution. According to the senator, most students expressed that “[t]hey don’t have a dog in this fight, but what they do stand for is the democratic process…they didn’t see the good faith attempt by ASPC to dig out who was against the resolution.”
Speaking on ASPC’s outreach efforts, the senator argued that “[w]e don’t have to seek out people who disagree with us…but the outcry shows the minutes don’t always reach people the way they’re supposed to. I think it’s important for resolutions like this, that would impact students across the 5Cs before we stripped that last clause…we need to make it a referendum for all people…[ASPC] should look at the issue in a deep-seated way.”
Expressing his hope that ASPC would take more time in the future to solicit opinions from the students it represents, the senator said that ASPC “should vote against [the resolution] or even abstain if we need to…Another problem we experienced was the amount of targeting, especially of Palestinian students…We have to be able to have good faith conversations about a resolution like this without doxxing each other…I think [the absence of people getting involved] shows we need to do a better job reaching out to people.”
Previously, Pomona’s President G. Gabrielle Starr urged ASPC to “discuss [the resolution] in greater depth, allowing for opposing voices to make their cases, so that our student governance can be inclusive and representative of all members of the community.”
At the meeting last week, Claremont Hillel, a Jewish community organization on campus, also related its “concerns about the process by which this bill was passed and its potential effects on Jewish life on campus. We agree with President Starr’s concerns that ‘this vote was held without representation from student opposition’ and it ‘works against the dialogue that is critical for constructive engagement of diverse voices on our campus.’ Given the controversial nature of this issue, we would have appreciated broader and more active engagement with other student groups on campus to ensure that any bills on this issue truly represented the will of the students. We hope that in the future ASPC will be more transparent about its legislative intentions, particularly with the Pomona students most likely to be affected by such bills.”
At last week’s meeting, Hillel cautioned that “decisions like this often lead to an increase in physical and verbal attacks on Jewish students regardless of their political beliefs. Involving Hillel and other 5C Jewish groups in future decisions could help mitigate this impact. We hope to engage in further dialogue on this issue and would appreciate being included in any future discussion and/or actions that ASPC takes on this subject given its impact on students.”
Following the first senator’s remarks, another member of ASPC said that the process for a student body vote “comes more with a referendum…which usually comes with urging a college-wide policy [like with last year’s vote on Universal Pass grading]…Procedurally, this seems to be befitting more of a resolution, which doesn’t call for a student body vote.”
After the short discussion period, ASPC voted to pass the bill by a supermajority.
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