Campus updates from across Ohio
By Kristen Mott , Cleveland Jewish News
Toledo student government passes first BDS resolution in state
The University of Toledo student government passed a divestment resolution during an open forum meeting March 3. This is the first divestment resolution passed by a university student government in Ohio.
The Toledo chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine presented a proposed resolution to the student government in February calling on the university to divest from funds that invest in companies connected to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The resolution cited specific companies including Cemex, Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard.
During a closed meeting Feb. 17, the student government voted 5-4 that the proposed resolution was unconstitutional.
According to Jessica Moses, president of Toledo Hillel, members of SJP recruited a lawyer and posted a long letter on its public Facebook page claiming the closed student government meeting wasn’t democratic and demanded that a new vote be presented in an open forum setting.
The UT student government announced that an open forum meeting would be held March 3 in the student union. Prior to the meeting, members of SJP promoted the resolution on social media using the hashtag #UTDivest.
Moses said she and members of Hillel drafted an amendment to the resolution that would broaden its terms.
“We wanted to make the resolution more broad in that if you’re against human rights you have to be against all countries that violate human rights, not just Israel,” said Moses, a Lyndhurst native who is also serving as an Israel on Campus Coalition fellow at Toledo.
Moses said she handed the amendment to the president of the student government March 2, but it was not included in the resolution. At the end of the meeting, the student government voted 21-4 to pass the divestment resolution.
Jon Strunk, the assistant vice president of university communications, said the resolution will be passed on to upper leadership at the university.
“Any legislation that is passed by student government is passed on to the senior vice president for student affairs (Kaye Patten Wallace),” Strunk said. “The senior vice president for student affairs then considers that legislation and distributes it throughout the administration as appropriate.”
Nagi Naganathan, interim president of UT, and Brenda Lee, president of the University of Toledo Foundation, issued a joint statement March 4 saying the university and the foundation do not support the divestment called for in the resolution.
OSU student government divestment proposal fails
A divestment resolution that was to appear on the election ballot for the undergraduate student government at The Ohio State University was removed March 8 after it was found to be in violation of the student government’s constitution and election bylaws.
The judicial panel of the student government stated that not every page of the divestment resolution bore the name of the circulator of the petition. The signatures on those unsigned pages were deemed invalid, which put the resolution below the required number of signatures necessary for an initiative to appear on the election ballot.
A group called OSU Divest organized the divestment resolution. According to the organization’s website, OSU Divest was founded in January 2015 by a group of OSU students, faculty, staff and community members who were “concerned about the ever-worsening human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Companies the organization targeted for divestment included Boeing, Caterpillar Corp., the Hewlett Packard Corp., General Dynamics, General Electric Corp. and United Technologies Corp.
Ohio U students’ cases dismissed
Lawyers representing four Ohio University students charged in connection with speaking out at a student senate meeting during fall semester greeted the news that the charges were dismissed with relief. Athens County Municipal Court confirmed that the Sept. 10 charges were dropped against Rebecca Sebo of Pepper Pike, Max Peltz of Orange, Jonah Yulish of Beachwood and Gabriel Sirkin of White Plains, N.Y., were dismissed March 4.
They were scheduled to appear in Athens Municipal Court March 9 for a pretrial hearing, followed by a jury trial that was set to begin March 10. Attorneys representing the four students filed motions to dismiss the case for lack of speedy trial March 3.
The four students had originally been charged with disturbing a lawful meeting after being arrested by OU police Sept. 10 when they refused to stop speaking during a student senate meeting. The students attended the meeting to call for the resignation of student senate president Megan Marzec, who had called on the university to divest from Israel that month.