Senate reverses divestment vote, passes resolution

Feb. 17, 2015, 11:11 p.m.
(ARNAV MARWALA/The Stanford Daily)
After a re-vote at the Senate meeting on Tuesday, the divestment resolution passed, with a vote of 10 yes, four no and one abstention. Two Senators, Rachel Samuels ’17 (center) and Ana Ordonez ’17 (right), changed their votes. The resolution supports divestment from corporations identified as complicit in human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine and claims no link to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (ARNAV MARWALA/The Stanford Daily).

The 16th Undergraduate Senate passed the resolution supporting divestment from corporations identified as complicit in human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine. The vote comes a week after the Senate did not pass the same resolution.

The re-vote saw 10 Senators vote in favor of the bill, while four voted against and one Senator abstained.

Last week’s vote fell two percentage points short of passing – nine Senators voted in favor, five opposed and one abstained, meaning 64 percent of the Senate favored the bill, falling short of the two-thirds majority.

Approximately 35 Stanford students attended Tuesday’s meeting after Senator Rachel Samuels ’17 notified students of the potential re-vote – last week’s meeting had over 400 people in attendance. Senator Ana Ordoñez ’17, who abstained from last week’s divestment, brought forward the motion calling for a re-vote.

An opportunity for a re-vote is generally left to the discretion of the Senate Chair.

Ordoñez, the current chair of the Senate, expressed that she was unable to focus last week because much of her energy was spent on trying to maintain the room.

“Now that the noise has subsided, I know that I voted incorrectly,” Ordoñez said.

Senators calling for a re-vote maintain that last week’s environment was hostile for those who were voting. Senators reported receiving numerous emails and text messages voicing various opinions on divestment. Ordoñez had given her closing remark at last week’s meetings in tears.

The motion to re-vote ultimately passed, with eight Senators voting in favor of the motion.

However, some Senators also questioned the constitutionality of the re-vote. Senator Andrew Aude ’16 maintained that a re-vote would paint the Senate as indecisive.

“The symbolism of divestment is lost if we go about it this way,” Aude said.

“It makes me want to bring a constitutional case against the Senate,” he added.

“We are doing a large part of the student body a disservice,” said Senator Eric Theis ’16, who maintains that the student body was given less than 24 hours notice on a midterm week. “It’s hard to use the motion to reconsider in the right way.”

The vote on the actual resolution saw two Senators change their votes.

Ordonez changed her vote from an abstention to a vote in favor of the resolution.

Samuels, who, after voting against the resolution last week, abstained from this week’s vote, emphasized the fact that the amendment to the resolution separated the Senate from supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“I was unprepared to process a bill that included an explicit separation from BDS,” Samuels said. “I was unprepared to be asked to be involved in the process of making sure the press understands that the Senate is not connected to BDS and that this bill affirms both Palestinian and Israeli right to life, security and self-determination.”

Aude, however, noted that the issue of divestment is often over-generalized.

“Media coverage of the issue doesn’t consider whether the language of the bill separates it from BDS,” Aude said. “All that matters is whether it’s a victory for divestment.”


Contact Alexis Garduno at agarduno ‘at’

Kylie Jue and Andrew Vogeley contributed to this article.

An earlier version of this article stated that Rachel Samuels posted about the potential re-vote in advance. Samuels did not announce the re-vote on Facebook.  The Daily regrets this error.

Login or create an account