SGA to vote on divestment resolution at next GA

By Gabriel Donahue, editor-in-chief

The Student Government Association will vote on a proposed resolution for Towson University to divest from companies supporting Israel at its general assembly next week. 

The SGA canceled the special session scheduled for Thursday, May 2, after realizing that it overlapped with the Student Affairs Leadership Awards ceremony, Vice President Shawn Bell said at its meeting Tuesday. 

The resolution “urges” the Towson University Foundation to “completely divest from all companies and funds that invest in companies, including but not limited to all those on the [American Friends Service Committee]’s divestment list, that facilitate the illegal occupation, displacement, and settlement of Palestine.” 

It acknowledges the more than 30,000 Palestinians killed by the Israeli army since it began a bombardment on Gaza in October after the militant group Hamas broke through the Israel-Gaza border blockade and killed about 1,200 Israelis, taking about 250 hostage, as well as the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Towson Foundation President Edna Primrose said at the SGA’s April 16 general assembly that the Foundation would work collaboratively with the SGA if it passes the resolution. 

“We will work with you to do the research, to find a solution,” Primrose said. “We will be transparent … We are responsible, we are conscientious, and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention.”

At that meeting, three students and an alumnus spoke in favor of it. 

Towson Hillel, a campus Jewish group, has encouraged Jewish students to testify against the resolution, calling it “deeply biased” in a petition against divestment. 

“Divisive student government legislation ensures that no matter who wins the vote, everyone on campus loses,” Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Alex Salzberg said in an emailed statement last Wednesday. “These votes marginalize Jewish students who have been under increasing threat from sharply rising antisemitism since October 7, and divide friends, peers, and campus communities while leaving little space for good-faith dialogue across difference.”

Brian DeFilippis, the vice president of University Advancement and executive vice president of the Foundation, told The Towerlight in an interview in December that the university does not invest in individual companies. 

He estimated that 95% of its investments are through “mutual funds or other pooled-fund assets.” 

“How those mutual funds are comprised of different investments change on a daily basis, but that’s not a function of the Foundation, that is a function of a mutual fund changing its components of its portfolio,” DeFilippis said.  

However, he said the Foundation “made some pretty meaningful changes” — developing a green fund and minimizing its interaction with certain companies in mutual funds — after the SGA passed a resolution to divest from fossil fuels a few years ago. 

“I’ve been really delighted and pleased that the Foundation, the investment committee when there have been these moments of, I’ll say reflection and opportunity to hear from our broader community, that we have been listening, responsive, intentional and thoughtful about making changes that we think are appropriate,” DeFilippis said. “We certainly want to make sure that we’re still producing spendable income that the university can use to support scholarships.” 

Similar resolutions have been introduced to student government associations nationwide in recent months, including within the University System of Maryland. 

The student government at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County passed its resolution in March, its student newspaper, The Retriever, reported

The University of Maryland, College Park’s student government did not advance a divestment resolution on April 17 after two hours of public comment, according to its student newspaper, The Diamondback.

Gabe Donahue has held numerous positions within The Towerlight. He started as a writer before becoming the News Editor, and now he serves as Editor-in-Chief.


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