Fall Term Report
We at SAIA York have been hard at work making strides with our divestment campaign. In 2011, we launched the campaign demanding that York University divest its endowment fund from arms manufacturers, military corporations, and companies accused of war crimes and other human rights violations. A university's endowment fund is used to fund scholarships, bursaries, and university projects. See York's September 2014 detailed investment holdings.
In the 2012/2013 academic year, the York Federation of Students and the Graduate Students' Association endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. CUPE 3903, the TAs and contract faculty union, passed its own BDS motion prior to that.
In the summer of 2014, Gaza endured yet another Israeli military offensive that killed 2,200 people and injured thousands of others, in addition to the bombardment of homes, UN shelters, hospitals, schools, and universities. The time to divest is now.
We have begun discussions with the Board of Governors about our campaign, and we have engaged with its advisory committee on responsible investing. We are now mobilizing support by reaching out to student clubs, associations, councils, and the student caucus of the York Senate.
In advancing our commitment to freedom of expression and transparency at York, we requested that the Student Community and Leadership Development (SCLD) office add York's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to its clubs contract. This would ensure that clubs are aware of their York-recognized rights when they agree to abide by University rules by signing the contract.
On Red and White Day, we held a banner drop in the Student Centre and a silent protest in Vari Hall to highlight the difficulty of expressing #YUSpirit when many students have relatives that are directly affected by York's investments.
We had the pleasure of hosting David Sheen and Saron Gebresellassi to speak about racism and incitement under Israeli apartheid.
We look forward to a busy Winter Term where we'll be expanding our networks, reaching out to faculty, and bringing you the annual Israeli Apartheid Week. We were even invited to give a presentation as part of Winters College Frost Week. Divestment from weapons has never been closer on a North American campus. So follow us, share this message, and stay tuned as we advance towards our divestment goals--and closer to freedom, justice, and equality in Palestine and beyond. See you in 2015.