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Mar 25, 2014 01:16 PM EDT

University Of Loyola's (Chicago) Student Government Asks School To Divest From Pro-Israeli Companies With Questionable Practices


Spurred by its Students for Justice in Palestine chapter and a petition of over 900 signatures (school enrollment, including graduate programs: about 15,000), the University of Loyola's student government passed a resolution asking the school to divest from pro-Israeli companies "that profit from violence and human rights abuses," Campus Reform reported. The specific companies named include (but weren't limited to) General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Soda Stream, Caterpillar, Group 4 Securicor, Elbit Systems, and Veolia.

For an example, the body of the petition documents the controversial practices of Group 4 Securicor, or G4S, an international security company. Israel contracts them to oversee and provide technology for incarceration facilities within country borders, and, according to the petition, in illegally occupied areas of Palestine. The facilities have also been accused of human rights violations in the way they handle prisoners. It wasn't stated in the petition how much Loyala benefits from their ties to G4S or any of the companies mentioned.

"Divestment is a non-violent strategy that is aimed to pressure corporations to withdraw from businesses violating human rights," Loyola's SJP chapter said in a statement. "SJP LUC hopes that this success signals the beginning of future successes for other universities and Jesuit institutions in the United States. As members of an institute of higher education it is our [the students'] responsibility to draw attention to these social justice abuses. SJP LUC stands in solidarity with Palestine and continues to stress the severity of the Conflict."

The school responded to questions surrounding the petition via an email to Campus reform. Maeve Kiley, director of communications, said the university hasn't made a decision on the issue (based on her statement it appears they'll most likely keep their investments). Actually, they couldn't have yet. The resolution still has to pass the student body president, Pedro Guerroro.  After a meeting (scheduled for Tuesday) restricted to members of the student local Jewish community, students, and staff (must have an ID card to gain access), Guerrero will decide whether to use his veto powers. If he does, it could still pass with a two-thirds vote in the senate.

"Loyola University Chicago has NOT adopted a resolution calling for the University to withdraw or refrain from investing in certain companies providing products and services in Israel," Kiley told Campus Reform in an email. "Loyola's student government is discussing such a proposal. This is not the position of Loyola University Chicago and we will not adopt this proposal. As a University, we welcome open dialogue and debate on differing points of view. Proposals like this one benefit from broader campus discussion."

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