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Stanford declines to act on students’ Israel divestment request

Stanford University campus

Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., will not act on a request to divest its endowment holdings of certain companies that do business in Israel, an announcement on the university’s website said.

In its request, the Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine called for the university to “divest its holdings in certain companies that they claim profit from human rights abuses and violations in international law in Israel/Palestine,” the university’s announcement said.

Stanford’s board of trustees concluded, however, that “the university’s mission and its responsibility to support and encourage diverse opinions would be compromised by endorsing an institutional position on either side of an issue as complex as the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the announcement said.

In further explaining its decision, the university pointed to its statement on investment responsibility which says if a trustee action “is likely to impair the capacity of the university to carry out its education mission (for example, by causing significant adverse action on the part of governmental or other external agencies or groups, or by causing deep divisions within the university community), then the trustees need not take such action.”

The companies targeted for potential divestment and how much the university’s $21.4 billion endowment has invested in them, could not immediately be learned.

A Stanford spokeswoman could not be reached for comment by press time.