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Michigan State to conduct ‘normal’ investment review after Israel divestment demand

But MSU should dissociate from ‘antisemitism and genocidal terrorism,’ pro-Israel group says

Michigan State University will review its investments after pro-Palestinian students demanded divestment from Israel.

However, this review “is a normal course of business,” the school told The College Fix.

“MSU has established a policy that provides a framework for active, professional investment management, with annual reporting of portfolio holdings,” university spokesman Mark Bullion said in an email. “As indicated during the February 2 Board of Trustees Meeting, the Board will conduct a review of the investment policy.”

“This is a normal course of business and was already in discussion as periodic review is appropriate and healthy,” Bullion said.

The decision follows a board meeting in early February where pro-Palestinian activists accused the university of supporting “genocide” against Palestinians by funding the Jewish state and major weapons manufacturers, The State News reported.

Trustees will review investments prior to the next board meeting in April, according to the student newspaper.

The Fix asked what criteria MSU would consider when deciding whether or not to divest from certain entities.

“Investment decisions are based on acceptable risk and return and aligned with supporting the institution’s financial health and advancement of our mission,” Bullion said.

As of June, MSU has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other companies tied to the defense industry and $236,114 in a U.S. Treasury bond supporting Israel, financial records show.

The university does not appear ready to divest from its investments.

Assistant Vice President of Financial Management Jeff Rayis told State News adjusting investments based on political concerns would be “chaotic” because the university typically does “not selectively alter portfolios of investment managers.”

The push for divestment by students and faculty had persisted for months ahead of the tense board meeting.

Students interrupted an oral report from board chair Rema Vassar with chants about Israel, and one student called the trustees “war criminals” during a period of public comment.

The pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs tied the divestment push at MSU to the broader Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement led by Palestinians.

“The MSU Board of Trustees should strongly condemn the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign,” StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein told The Fix via a media statement. “BDS seeks the elimination of Israel, referred to the barbaric October 7th massacre a ‘powerful armed reaction,’ and (according to the New York Times) is directly tied to Hamas.”

“If MSU leaders do not want their institution’s reputation to be tied to antisemitism and genocidal terrorism, they must unequivocally reject pressure from anti-Israel extremists on campus,” Rothstein stated.

MSU senior Alissa Hakim was almost removed from the board meeting when she spoke on behalf of a student who could not attend. The board’s secretary said this was against the rules, told her not to “disrupt the meeting,” and ordered police to escort her out, but Vassar intervened and let Hakim continue speaking.

“You must take student demands into serious consideration and act,” Hakim, a member of the school’s Arab Cultural Society, told the board. “Your Arab and Muslim students cannot be continuously failed and rejected.”

The College Fix asked Hakim via email for a complete list of companies MSU should divest from, what next steps the board should take, and what impact divestment might have but did not receive a response to two inquiries sent in the past week.

The Fix sent the same questions in an Instagram message to the Hurriya Coalition, a student group who organized a divestment protest days before the board meeting. The coalition, comprised of more than 20 student organizations, has not responded in the past week.

The board became aware of the investment in Israel due to an Instagram post from the Hurriya Coalition in December, State News revealed via a public records request.

The group’s account frequently posts content accusing Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid,” promotes the BDS movement, and uses hashtags with the word “intifada,” which means “shaking off” in Arabic and historically refers to violent Palestinian uprisings.

The coalition also promoted a petition condemning “all violence towards innocent civilians by both Hamas and the Israeli terror regime.”

The Associated Students of MSU, the university’s student government, passed a bill during a Feb. 15 meeting that formalized pro-Palestinian activists’ demands for divestment. The Jewish Student Union spoke out against the bill.

“[The bill] is not intended to achieve results, but to vilify, demonize and ostracize Jewish students with a strong connection to the state of Israel,” JSU member Joe Nordan said, according to the student newspaper.

MORE: UVA professor cancels class to support anti-Israel walkout

IMAGES: Hurriya Coalition/Instagram

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Hudson Crozier is a student at the University of North Texas studying journalism and political science. He is senior contributor for Upward News and has also written for The Federalist, Red Liberty Media, and others.