Thursday November 8th, the Pitzer College faculty voted on and passed the following two motions;
Motion 1. The Pitzer Faculty dissents from the decision of Pitzer’s president and trustees to nullify the Student Senate resolution 53-B-20 of April 30, 2017. Independent of agreeing or disagreeing with that resolution, we the Faculty object to the president and trustees singling out this one issue as a basis for not accepting the Senate’s longstanding autonomy in controlling its funds, in the context of Pitzer’s governance system.
Motion 2. The Pitzer Faculty calls for the suspension of the College’s exchange with Haifa University, until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.
Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine receives the news with great joy as Pitzer College faculty have moved to boycott a study abroad program with an Israeli university, the University of Haifa. The University of Haifa program is deeply problematic and it is imperative that the colleges withdraw this program from their study abroad curriculums. Primarily, as the motion suggests, Israeli policies bar students from receiving visas to study at Palestinian universities, meaning that students are denied the opportunity to learn about Palestinian culture, narratives, and history. Additionally, Israel has passed increasingly draconian policies banning political speech and barring activists for Palestinian human rights from entering the country. On top of this, Israel has a systemic practice of racial discrimination at the border, meaning that this program is largely inaccessible to students from Middle Eastern descent. By encouraging other Pitzer students to embark on this program, the college has been consciously supporting these discriminatory practices.
Moreover, Motion 1 addresses last year’s unjust decision by the Pitzer Board of Trustees’ to ‘rescind’ the Pitzer Student Senate resolution. The senate resolution, which was democratically passed by senate multiple times, prohibits use of student activity funds for good and services associated with the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. These two motions not only support the autonomy and democratic process of the Pitzer Student Senate but also assert that faculty stand in solidarity with student voices. Pitzer’s past support of Israeli policies have a profoundly negative impact on their students. Palestinian students and those in solidarity with them are hurting as they watch their college blatantly support oppression.
We note that the faculty of the college passed their two Motions following a multi-year process in which Pitzer students were actively brought into, and widely participated in, an inclusive and democratic conversation on the College’s relationship to Palestine-Israel. Claims to the contrary are misleading not factual. Critics attack this important resolution from a decidedly partisan perspective, one hostile to support for the human rights of Palestinians. On November 8th, the faculty of the college decided to listen to student voices – to support the call for justice, respect and dignified life through the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement.
Today it is important to rally in support of the faculty’s decision to do the right thing. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people living under occupied territories or in exile, and we will continue to fight for their rights. The faculty motions are two important and crucial milestones in the path towards justice for Palestinians, and we hope that the Claremont student populace supports them with the utmost enthusiasm.