Grass-roots campaigns are resurfacing at colleges and universities to pressure endowment officials to divest from international companies that are involved in or profiting from the recent violence in Gaza.
Among the activity:
• Student activists at the Dearborn campus of the University of Michigan have renewed their call for the University of Michigan's Board of Regents to create an advisory committee that would examine the moral and ethical implications of the university's investments in companies that support and benefit from the violence. The University of Michigan has three campuses, all managed by the Board of Regents, which oversees a $7.6 billion endowment.
• The Students for Justice in Palestine at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., have presented the trustees of the college's $33 million endowment fund with a recommendation to sell off holdings in a mutual fund run by State Street Global Advisors.
• Chiara Ricciardone, a 2005 graduate of Swarthmore College launched an online petition calling for divestment of Israeli-related holdings in the school's $1 billion endowment.
In late December, Israel launched a series of air and missile attacks on targets across Gaza. Health officials said more than 1,300 people were killed before Israeli troops withdrew on Jan. 21.
Meanwhile, divestment pressures are expected to spread to other university and college endowments.
“What's going on in Israel has a very frightening resemblance to South Africa during apartheid,” Ms. Ricciardone said in a phone interview. “I think we're going to see more and more campaigns at universities.”
Ms. Ricciardone mentioned that she was able to spread news of her campaign through Facebook, an online social networking program.
A search of “Israel divestment” on Facebook yielded 33 common-interest groups and several petitions.
The Dearborn campus' student government in 2006 passed a resolution supporting the creation of an advisory committee on divestment of companies that support or benefit from the “ongoing illegal Israeli occupation.”