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Penn nixes Israel divestment vote

University of Pennsylvania president reiterated school’s opposition to divesting from Israel

The University of Pennsylvania will not divest from Israel, the school’s president announced recently.

President Larry Jameson issued the statement last week, following a student referendum in support of divestment.

“We look forward to discussing other kinds of engagement on the topics that matter most to the Penn student body throughout the academic year ahead, and we appreciate the [Nomination & Elections Committee’s] role in those important conversations,” Jameson wrote to the university community.

The campus Muslim Students’ Association advocated for a series of referendum questions in support of divestment, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

There were three questions on the ballot during the spring vote, three of which directly advocated for divestment.

The first vote called generally for public disclosure of how endowment funds were invested. It passed by a vote of 1483 to 582. About 22 percent of students voted in the election, according to the campus newspaper.

“Should the University of Pennsylvania divest its endowment fund from companies and organizations that profit from, engage in, or contribute to the government of Israel’s human rights violations,” the second question asked. It passed by a closer vote of 946 to 541.

The final question asked if Penn should cut ties with a “drone-mounted robot dogs,” company called Ghost Robotics. The company is “housed in Pennovation” and sells its product to Israel. The question accused the company of being used “by the Israeli government…to commit human rights violations.”

Pennovation is an entrepreneurship hub developed by the university. The Daily Pennsylvanian was previously skeptical of claims that Ghost Robotics products are used unethically.

The vote passed 1257 to 681.

The Muslim student group criticized Jameson’s decision. “This disregard for the student body’s clear mandate undermines our democratic process and fails to address significant concerns about ethical investments and transparency,” the group wrote, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Israel supporters thanked the university.

“With only 22% of the student body participating in the referendum, the resolution does not represent the views of a majority of Penn students,” the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee stated, according to the student newspaper.

Other Ivy League universities have rejected divestment from Israel.

For example, Cornell University’s student government voted down a demand for divestment in February, as previously reported by The College Fix.

MORE: Israel divestment demand killed by Michigan State faculty senate

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.