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Student leaders vote to divest from Israel but ignore China divestment resolution

Were they just trolling BDS supporters?

If Israel deserves the wrath of the academic community, why not China?

A group of University of Chicago students is asking the student government, which voted to divest the university from Israel last month, to be consistent in its condemnation of human-rights abuses by also voting to divest from China.

One of those students, who is running to represent his class on the undergraduate College Council, blasted “certain doubting representatives” for insinuating their China resolution was not offered seriously.

The College Council approved the anti-Israel resolution at its April 12 meeting, though the record remains in doubt on two amendments because those votes were hand-counted with no names attached, The Chicago Maroon reported Tuesday. The amendments would scrub any mention of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and assert “Israel’s right to exist.”

In response to the anti-Israel resolution, students Paul Soltys, Matthew Foldi and Tamar Gordis offered an anti-China resolution. They do not claim to represent any campus group.

The College Council voted Tuesday to indefinitely table the China resolution, meaning it will not be voted on until the next term begins, Maroon reporter Christine Schmidt told The College Fix in a phone interview.

Soltys, who is running for Class of 2019 representative on the council, defended the sincerity of the China resolution in a Maroon letter to the editor last week.

“When College Council votes to divest from one small subset of the vast range of human rights violators in the world, it only makes sense that it divest from the entire set,” Soltys wrote. “Considering China has been home to some of the most egregious human rights abuses in the world over the past century, it makes sense to begin there.”

He listed several human rights abuses, including restrictions on freedom of speech and “organ harvesting from Falun Gong adherents.”

The China resolution calls for the university “to withdraw, within the bounds of their fiduciary duty, investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings in government-owned companies of China, profiting from human rights abuses, and violations of international law in China.”

This includes not only the university endowment at large, but also the funds invested by the student investment club Blue Chips. Neither that club nor Gordis, the supporter of the China proposal, responded to requests for comment.

In his letter, Soltys denied that supporters of Chinese divestment were being political, so much as asking the council to be consistent.

Noting that he didn’t generally agree with the council taking on foreign affairs, “if we, as a student body, have decided to divest from human rights abusers, then that sentiment must be extended to all transgressors,” Soltys wrote. “I believe this is not something Council can pick and choose on. To recognize the suffering of one group and ignore another is inconsistent and morally wrong.”

china-communism.mke1963.flickr

Peggy Xu, class of 2017 council  representative, accused the supporters of playing politics in a Maroon letter to the editor.

Saying that many of her relatives “died of starvation” during China’s Cultural Revolution, Xu called it “morally reprehensible” that the China proposal supporters would “minimize this issue into a political ploy, presumably designed to ‘catch’ College Council in some form of moral inconsistency.”

Xu accused the China proposal supporters of opposing divestment “in the first place” and being insincere.

The UChicago Coalition for Peace, a pro-Israel group, wrote on its Facebook page that it is “not associated with the pending resolutions before the College Council regarding divesting from the Blue Chips [recognized student organization] or the People’s Republic of China. We do not take a stance on issues unrelated to Israel and the BDS movement.”

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IMAGE: Poco a poco/Wikimedia Commons, mke1963/Flickr

About the Author
Matt Lamb graduated in May 2015 from Loyola University-Chicago, where he majored in political science, and minored in economics and Catholic Studies. There, he was also an active member of Loyola Students for Life and Loyola College Republicans, and wrote for The Loyola Phoenix. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. His work for The College Fix has been featured by National Review, Fox News, New York Times, and several other news outlets. He currently works as a Field Coordinator for Turning Point USA.

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