Student Protesters Call on The New School to Divest From 13 Companies

As multiple colleges and universities across the country are grappling with how best to ease tensions with pro-Palestine protesters, a group called The New School’s Students for Justice in Palestine is calling upon The New School’s board of trustees to vote to divest from 13 Israeli-related entities.

In a press release circulated Thursday, the TNS SJP organization claimed that the university is invested in 65 funds that have positions in 13 companies including Google, General Electric, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, Motorola Solutions and the Raytheon Co. among others. That tally was said to be based on an April 26 meeting with The New School’s vice president of business operations Mark Diaz. The other companies that The New School is allegedly tied to are Axa, Caterpillar Inc., Cemex, the Chevron Co., Elbit Systems Ltd., and Northrop Grumman Corp.

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A spokesperson for The New School had not responded to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.

TNS SJP claimed that it is the first group in the U.S. “to win partial disclosure” — an unsubstantiated claim given the dozens of protests underway on college campuses and varying demands that are being made of school officials and their respective boards. TNS SJP alleged that The New School has invested in the aforementioned companies “that are actively involved in, and benefiting from, the genocide in Palestine.” Supporters also claimed that [some members of] The New School community have “united to demand that the university’s board of trustees hold an emergency vote” Thursday to divest. The release stated, “Based on votes that closed this morning, the overwhelming majority of faculty have joined students to call for the university’s immediate divestment from these corporate beneficiaries profiting from war crimes.“

TNS SJP claimed that faculty members in The New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, School for Social Research, and Schools of Public Engagement have voted “overwhelmingly — from 81 percent to 90 percent across divisions in favor of supporting a resolution to immediately divest.”

Representatives did not respond to requests for further comment Thursday.

The release referenced a statement by Jaskiran Dhillon, associate professor of global studies and anthropology at The New School’s Schools of Public Engagement, who reiterated the need for an emergency vote. Dhillon said, “At a time when so many universities have invited brutal police repression against their own faculty and students and as multiple authoritative international bodies have stated that Israel’s ongoing war against Gaza constitutes the commission of multiple war crimes, this is not a decision that should be determined by economic exigency. The university has the capacity. Anything less would be an insult to the institution’s legacy.”

Dhillon did not respond immediately to a media request Thursday afternoon.

TNS SJP claimed that the school’s leadership “like many universities across the country, consistently said that divestment is practically difficult, if not impossible.” Supporters referenced how The New School committed to divest from all fossil fuels in 2015, but Chevron Corp. remains in the school’s investment portfolio. “The university’s financial objectives are not foreclosed by upholding previous divestment commitments, nor, in fact by expanding them to include funding to the 13 companies directly complicit in Israel’s state violence,” according to TNS SJP.

Paulo L. dos Santos, associate professor of economics at the New School for Social Research, said in the release that a decision “not to divest from the 13 companies will be rightly perceived not as a financial decision, but as an endorsement of those corporations and of their involvement in Israel’s actions in Gaza.” Dos Santos did not respond immediately to a media request Thursday afternoon.

While protests and in some instances, encampments, have consisted of large groups at major schools like UCLA, USC, Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, Northeastern University and MIT, smaller groups have rallied at schools with smaller student bodies such as The New School and the Fashion Institute of Technology. As of Thursday night, a small outdoor encampment of student protesters remained at F.I.T., according to a school spokeswoman.

Earlier this week more than 100 protesters were arrested at Columbia University after school officials called in the New York City Police Department. Taking a different tack, officials at Brown University agreed to allow student protesters to present a proposal to divest its endowment from companies that are profiting from the war in Gaza, on the condition that they suspend all protests and clear their encampment on the College Green on the Providence campus. The vote is scheduled for October.

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