The University of California Student Association board voted to support a resolution to divest from companies that do business in certain countries including the United States. While college students often make statements and take action on political matters, the timing of this advocacy could see the action become tangled up with the ongoing debate over tuition increases and funding for the University of California system.
The vote was in conjunction with the on-going Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement designed to divest from companies doing business in Israel. Student governments at UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UCLA and UC Davis have already passed nonbinding resolutions supporting divestment.
While the resolutions have no power, students intend to make an issue of divestment with the Board of Regents.
The Committee of Two looking into UC’s funding, Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano, are unlikely to consider this issue. However, others may inject the divestment votes into discussions over UC funds.
Already, some donors have told UC branches that the divestment vote will discourage them from making additional gifts to the university. But could it play a wider role in the taxpayer funding of the university system?
American businesses are the targets of the resolution. Whether the particular businesses sponsor university events, the business community will take note of the action and perhaps hesitate in sponsoring university events.
But to a larger extent, expect concerned anti-divestment Californians to lobby their legislators to make a statement by perhaps threatening to affect university funding.
While a big effort is on-going to increase university funding, as demonstrated in an article published last week on this site, university funding could become a proverbial political football that was just kicked-off by the student association vote. Expect some critics to tie a divestment movement against some countries including the USA into a divestment effort against the university.