Thursday, May 12, 2011

Students demand divestment against Israeli occupation, at Evergreen State College:

"We will push you until you divest."

"Board of trustees told to divest"

COOPER POINT JOURNAL (Evergreen State College)


The Evergreen State College Board of Trustees’ May 11 meeting was mobbed with students and community members full of opinions on the campus divestment movement. The Library boardroom was at capacity, with students and faculty standing along the walls, spilling out of the room to outside of the doors, straining to hear the comments.

The public comment section of the board meeting was not designated as a discussion of college divestment. However, all but two of the comments voiced during the hour-and-a-half related to this issue.

Those who signed up to make a public comment were given roughly two minutes to speak their piece, while the board remained silent for the duration.

The overwhelming majority of speakers voiced varying levels of support for the divestment resolution passed in 2010 by campus-wide election. While some gave tentative support, calling upon the board to take the vote seriously and debate it openly, others took a more radical position.

Evergreen alum Anna-Marie Murano vehemently demanded that the Trustees obey the student election supporting divestment. “So far, the board of trustees has failed us. The president [of the college] has failed us,” she said.

“I ask you, as people in power, to follow our lead. You don’t need to lead, just follow us. There are plenty of us that will stand in front of you. Look at all the people here today,” continued Murano.

“This is the beginning. This is not the end, this is the beginning, and we will push you until you divest. We will divest. I will tell you: Red Square will start looking like Tahrir Square unless you start doing something,” said Murano, wrapping up her comment dramatically.

Some voiced concerns about divestment and the possible effect it could have upon the academic atmosphere at Evergreen.

Senior Josh Levine said that he did not think divestment would serve Evergreen’s goals. “The end goal of the college is the educational opportunities it provides its students,” said Levine.

“I’m afraid that if Boycott Divest Sanction has its way with this campus, it will curtail the faculty. It will curtail the students,” said Levine. “It will not allow them the full variety of studies that might otherwise be permitted. If a student is going off into the middle east to do a contract, or a faculty person chooses to invite an Israeli philosopher or scientist to campus, would we have to go through an approval process because we’re putting money into the Israeli economy?”

The only other issue brought to the board related to the ongoing classified staff contract negotiations. Evergreen employee Lin Crowley, who is on the union negotiation team, expressed her frustration with the process, which she described as “at an impasse.” She then reiterated the union’s demand that administrators agree to the same level of pay cut endured by classified staff.

At end of the comment section, Nathan Brockett, the student member of the Board of Trustees, expressed his desire to take some kind of action even if divestment is not an option.


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