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UMich faculty senate demands Israel divestment

‘This will do nothing more than divide this campus further and further,’ dissenting professor says

The University of Michigan should divest its holdings from companies that “profit from Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza,” according to the faculty senate.

“Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate Assembly calls upon the University’s leadership, including the Board of Regents, to divest from its financial holdings in companies that invest in Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza,” the resolution states.

“Be it further resolved that this Senate Assembly call for divestment is not a request to end support, academically or financially, for any of U-M’s partnerships with Israeli colleges or universities or to otherwise imply ending any,” the resolution stated.

The resolution cites past divestments from South Africa and Russia in its resolution, directed at the Board of Regents. It makes no mention of the unprovoked attack by Hamas terrorists on innocent Israeli citizens on October 7, 2023. Nor are there any specific companies mentioned.

There does not appear to be any chance of the university taking action on the resolution.

“It has been the University’s unwavering policy to shield the endowment from political pressures and to base its investment decisions on financial factors such as risk,” Chief Financial Officer Geoffrey Chatas said at the meeting, according to The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper.

“And just as recently as this last fall, when we were approached to consider the topic at hand, the Board decided to reaffirm that they would not take up the topic of divestment in Israel at this time,” he said, prior to the vote.

A sports management professor disagreed with the resolution, saying it would only increase tension on campus.

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“This will do nothing more than divide this campus further and further,” Professor Mark Rosentraub said, as reported by the student newspaper. “With the Faculty Senate not proposing anything in a constructive sense about what it’s going to do to try to build a bridge towards peace, what we’ll do is we’ll further divide our campus into those who support one group versus the other. That will continue to tear us apart.”

Education Professor Vilma Mesa disagreed with this line of argument.

“I recognize the need to stop participating in these harms,” Mesa said, according to the student newspaper. “I want to speak also about the issue of fear. I don’t think that fear should be the driving force here. We need to be upfront and uphold what we represent.”

This is not the only attempt this year to get the university to discuss its investments. The Senate Assembly passed a resolution in November “ask[ing] the University’s leadership to make clear and public the extent and nature of the University’s financial investments in the State of Israel.”

The call to action follows a decision late last year to establish a research institute to study antisemitism at the flagship Ann Arbor campus.

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute is “part of a university-wide effort to combat antisemitism and support religious diversity and inclusion on campus,” according to the university.

MORE: ‘Only one solution,’ UMich pro-Palestinian group chants (in January 2023)

IMAGE: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock.com

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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.