Twenty-four student senators voted in favor of the resolution, twenty-two voted against and three abstained. Campus paper The Daily Northwestern reported that the 400-seat auditorium was filled to capacity. Others live-streamed the hearing on YouTube.
Since Northwestern is a private institution, the university’s investment portfolio is kept secret. The resolution demands transparency from the university administration regarding the billions of dollars it holds in assets. Student campaigners say these assets likely include investments in at least six US or multinational corporations which contract with the Israeli military.
Student senator Noah Whinston, who co-authored the divestment resolution, told The Daily Northwestern, ”It’s a validation of so much work we’ve done. It’s just a culmination of all of the marginalized voices that we heard here speak tonight.”
Divestment campaigners were subjected to “vigilante censorship” of Palestine activism as flyers and materials have been torn down or destroyed, Moira Geary of the Northwestern chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine told The Electronic Intifada last month.
But activists also gained a lot of support from campus allies.
During last night’s divestment hearing, activists from a variety of student groups spoke in favor of divestment, including representatives of For Members Only, which describes itself as “the voice of the Black student community at Northwestern.”
After with Stanford University, Northwestern is the second university this week to pass a divestment resolution in the student government. The University of California at Davisand the UC Students Association also passed divestment resolutions in the last month.