'Capitulated to the Mob': CSU Sacramento Caves to Anti-Israel Protesters’ Demands

Pro-Palestine students protest at California State University, Sacramento May 7, 2024 (@DevinTrubeyTV/X)
May 9, 2024

California State University, Sacramento this week announced it would pull investments from companies profiting from "genocide, ethnic cleansing, and activities that violate fundamental human rights," in an agreement struck with anti-Israel protesters who spent days camping out in a central part of its campus. The policy does not mention Israel and a spokeswoman for the school declined to comment on whether it applied to Israel. Anti-Israel protesters, however, singularly fixated on the missteps of the Jewish state, were satisfied that the school had met their demands.

"We will pursue human rights-based approach [sic] to investments," the university’s revised policy states, without naming specific companies. The university had previously approved the protesters’ occupation of its library quad—which they dubbed "Gaza Plaza." Officials said in a statement it was "pleased that we have reached resolution of the issue at the heart of the encampment." The divestment pledge was made Tuesday night.

This concession by a taxpayer-funded university comes as anti-Israel protesters roil campuses throughout the nation. Sacramento State is California’s first university to overhaul its investment strategy at the protesters’ behest. Its policy follows last week’s commitment by University of California, Irvine to consider pulling Sabra hummus from its food offerings due to the company’s ties to Israel, to reexamine its investment strategy, and to potentially ax Israel from its study abroad program.

Critics see the move as a surrender to activists that could intensify campus anti-Semitism.

"The administration at Sacramento State have capitulated to the mob," said Brandy Shufutinsky, director of education and community engagement at the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, adding that the policy shows "they do not care for the safety and well-being of Jewish students, faculty, and staff."

A university spokeswoman in an emailed statement said the revised policy "is intentionally meant to cover the many atrocities and challenges that are taking place all over the world."

"We believe it’s important that our efforts to fund students’ education do not rely upon us benefiting from companies that profit from ethnic cleansing, genocide, or human rights violations," she said. She added that the university does not have any more details on what this means—including whether divestment would include global brands and companies that use China’s forced labor of its Uyghur Muslim minority group, for instance.

In a memo released alongside the policy change, university president Luke Wood praised "student protests and political action" as the "cornerstones of higher education and democracy."

"We understand that many people feel anxious and fearful, particularly when standing for what they believe," Wood’s memo stated. "We ask that everyone do their part to support one another, to ensure that CSU Sacramento is a safe and inclusive place for all."

The protesters themselves hailed the policy as a win, with one activist telling NBC News that the administration "did everything right."

The university’s policy does not mention Israel or any other country directly. A 2016 law signed by former Democratic governor Jerry Brown bars the state from spending more than $100,000 in taxpayer funds on entities with explicit anti-Israel policies.