TU SGA passes resolution “urging” divestment from Israel

By Gabriel Donahue, senior staff writer

The Towson University Student Government Association passed a resolution urging the TU Foundation to divest from companies funding the killing of “civilians involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

SGA senators voted 12-1-1 in favor of the resolution after approving amendments that changed the language of the bill to acknowledge the hostages held by Hamas, and the Israelis that were killed amid the violence in the region

The Towson chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America proposed the original resolution to the SGA. Sen. Alana Fithian-Wilson and Government Operations Chair Clifton Crosby Jr. introduced it. 

Crosby said the amendments were created after meeting with the president of Towson Hillel, the on-campus Jewish group. 

“SGA is here to represent all students and not just the views of what one organization wanted … that’s what these amendments are for,” Crosby said. 

Chairperson of YDSA Dalila Ives told The Towerlight that the group is excited it passed despite the amendments that “make the resolution more both-sided.” 

“We are disappointed it got a little bit watered down in that way, but at the end of the day, the outcome is the same, they will be divesting from all the same companies,” she said. 

Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Alex Salzberg and multiple students declined to comment after the resolution’s passage.

Hillel posted a statement on its Instagram page Tuesday evening, which stated it is “extremely disappointed in our student government’s actions” and called the legislation deeply biased and antisemitic. 

“[Divestment campaigns] are about normalizing antisemitism and introducing hate and division on campus,” the statement read. “Their intent is to promote extreme hatred of Israel and target Jewish students and organizations on campus.” 

Fithian-Wilson said before the vote that the legislation is not intended to incite hate.

“We are calling for divestment from the conflict as a whole, we do not want killing of innocent people and the illegal occupation of territory,” she said. 

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

The TU Foundation manages the university’s funds “for the benefit and promotion of the university or for all of the education and support activities that may be conducted by the university,” its webpage states. 

Crosby said the conversations with Primrose and the Foundation will carry over to the next SGA administration. 

“Conflict isn’t a one-time thing, this isn’t a vacuum environment, so how can we have transparency on where our investments are or even somewhat of control of where our investments go?” Crosby said. 

The senate heard 32 minutes of public comment. This included 18 students and other members of the campus community with exactly nine speaking for and nine speaking against the resolution. 

The public comment section is allotted 20 minutes per governing documents, according to a message last Tuesday from SGA President Jordan Colquitt. 

As that time dwindled, President-elect Edmund Rhynes Jr. recommended an extension of public comment time by 12 minutes so the people lined up could speak. 

The senate approved this extension. Others who were still waiting to speak after it ended were not granted the opportunity. 

One student was asked to leave after Vice President Shawn Bell said he was violating the time, place and manner policy by interrupting the meeting in an attempt to speak against the resolution after the end of public comment. 

Roughly 60 attendees filled the gallery to capacity. A line formed outside the room before the meeting began, and many who were not let in watched a livestream of the meeting in the hallway. 

Cheers erupted from inside and outside the room after the senators passed the resolution. 

Atika Syed, the Center for Student Diversity’s coordinator for Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and Desi American students, had tears in her eyes as the meeting ended. 

“I think they just made history today,” she said. “I don’t know what the end result is going to be, but this is just the beginning.”

Sarah Sternhagen contributed to this story, including retrieving YDSA comment. 

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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