Michigan Regents Will Take No Action to Divest From Israeli Companies

Student government passed boycott, divestment, and sanctions resolution last month

University of Michigan
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December 15, 2017

A majority of the University of Michigan Board of Regents announced Thursday that they will take no action to divest from companies that operate in Israel, despite a resolution passed last month by the student government demanding the university move toward that goal.

Six of the eight regents signed a statement affirming that they would not create a committee to examine disengaging from companies allegedly complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, adding, "we strongly oppose any action involving the boycott, divestment, or sanction (BDS) of Israel."

The regents said complex issues should be considered through active study and engagement, and that applying BDS "offends these bedrock values of our great university."

"We remain committed to the university's longstanding policy to shield the endowment from political pressures," they wrote.

The only regents who did not sign the statement were Katherine E. White, a law professor at the Wayne State University Law School in Detroit and a colonel in the U.S. Army, and Shauna Ryder Diggs, a dermatologist. Like most of their fellow Michigan regents, White and Diggs are Democrats, according to their biographies on the Board of Regents website.

Diggs told the Washington Free Beacon in an email, "I am in favor of the spirit of the statements but I believe these statements, deliberations, and responses to a resolution should take place in an open meeting."

"I do not support it [the student government vote], but I believe the board should address it in a public vote, not in a signed statement," continued Diggs, calling for transparency in the regents' response to racism and ant-Semitism.

White did not respond to a request for comment.

The student representatives voted 23 to 17 in a secret ballot advocating the regents rethink investments with Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, and United Technologies, which were alleged to have contributed to violence against Palestinians through their business dealings with the Israel Defense Forces. The November vote was the first success in activists' 15-year campaign to pass an anti-Israel resolution at Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.

In footage exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, individuals behind the divestment agenda were exposed for making anti-Semitic comments and discriminating against their Jewish peers.

A new study found that 21 percent of Jewish students at Michigan agreed that the school has a "hostile environment toward Jews," and 51 percent thought the same of the campus attitude toward Israel.

Hampshire College, in Massachusetts, remains the only university or college in the United States to have acceded to a student pro-BDS campaign and divest from Israel at the trustee level.

Update 12:03 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from Diggs.

Published under: Israel