On Sunday, Columbia University Apartheid Divest and Student Workers at Columbia announced Columbia College Student Council’s new resolution to boycott Israel-supporting companies and voted for a referendum concerning University divestment. The next day, Barnard College, School of General Studies, and the Columbia School of Social Work joined the referendum, with the Columbia Law School planning to petition for an alternate form.

On Sunday, March 3, Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) passed a resolution to boycott companies supporting Israel. The vote passed with 29 affirmations, 2 oppositions, and 4 abstains. In the official resolution, CCSC expressed that they “vehemently condemn the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the University’s complicit role in the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians.”

The decision concerns the designations of CCSC’s approximately $450,000 operating budget, which is mostly geared towards student life programming, including events and clubs. As described in a shared Instagram post expressing wholehearted support for the resolution, CU Apartheid Divest (CUAD) and Student Workers described the vote’s aims to boycott “all products linked to Israeli apartheid.” The products to be boycotted are derived from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, including McDonald’s, Disney, AirBnB, and Texaco. 

In addition to the boycott vote, CCSC voted to initiate a referendum to students concerning addressing the University’s economic and academic involvement with Israel. “It is unacceptable for universities to ignore this genocide for either financial or educational reasons,” two speakers representing CUAD argued at Sunday’s CCSC meeting. “Students deserve a say due to how immense the connection between the university and Israel is.” 

According to the shared CUAD and Student Workers post, the referendum ballot will include the following issues:

  1. Divesting all stocks, funds, and endowment and refrain from further investment in companies profiting from or engaging in Israeli apartheid;
  2. Canceling the opening of the Tel Aviv Global Center;
  3. Ceasing the Dual Degree Program between Columbia University and Tel Aviv University.

In their resolution, CCSC also called for the Columbia Engineering Student Council (ESC), General Studies Student Council (GSSC), and Barnard College’s Student Government Association (SGA) to “condemn the University’s complacency in the genocide of Palestinians” and advocate for similar resolutions.

These demands were later met, as on Monday, March 4, CUAD announced that the same referendum will also be held for three other schools at the University: Barnard College, School of General Studies, and Columbia School of Social Work. In addition, the Columbia Law School will petition for a Student Senate advocacy statement from the school as opposed to hosting a formal referendum. 

This is not the first time that students have been presented with a referendum concerning Columbia University’s divestment from Israel. In 2020, CCSC passed a BDS ballot initiative, which eventually yielded 1081 student votes favoring divestment out of the 1771 students who participated.

These decisions coincide with continuous campus-wide debate and concerns towards the University’s involvement with Israel. For example, on February 21, CCSC, alongside the General Studies Student Council Executive Board and Barnard Student Government Association Executive Board, announced the cancellation of the annual Glass House Rocks performance in response to multiple dance groups’ withdrawal in protest against the University. 

With their expressed support for CCSC’s resolution, CUAD and Student Workers of Columbia announced, “this is just the beginning of our campaign to demonstrate strong consensus among the student body for Palestinian liberation.” 

Cover Photo via Bwog Archives.