“We suffered not only from the cruelty of killers, but also from the indifference of bystanders. I believe that a person who is indifferent to the suffering of others is complicit in the crime. And that I cannot allow, at least not for myself.” – Elie Weisel
I am in favor of UGS-W2013-6, the bill before the undergraduate senate that would allow them to call upon the Stanford Board of Trustees on behalf of the student body and urge the Board to reevaluate it‟s investment in “Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Motorola, Riwal, Cement Roadstone Holdings, Mekorot Water Company, and Veolia Transport and, to the extent it is invested in these companies, to notify them of the university‟s concern regarding their role in facilitating human rights abuses and, should the aforementioned companies continue to engage in these practices and all other options be exhausted, to divest from and/or commit not to invest in them until they cease these activities”
I understand that this is an extremely divisive issue, but that does not give the UG Senate a reason to avoid it. If anything, the divisiveness of the issue points to its importance and gives the senate more of an impetus and a responsibility to do something about it. The passage of this bill and the consequent campaign to urge the Board of Trustees will be one of the most tangible things the undergraduate senate can do this year to have a lasting impact on Stanford students, the legacy of Stanford University, and the lives of human beings half a world away. Being pro- divestment in absolutely no way equates with being anti-Israel. It is a question of being either for human dignity or indifferent to human suffering.
Speak to any alum who was involved in the divestment campaign for South Africa at Stanford three decades ago, and they will tell you how divisive this issue was on campus, how stupid and pointless countless students, faculty, and administration made the campaign seem, and how impossible it seemed that they would ever influence the Board of Trustees. Ask that same alum and they will also tell you that after months of pressing the administration and being told that divestment would be ineffective, un-strategic, and pointless, the campaign ended successfully and the same Stanford administration chose to divest from companies directly involved in and profiting from the oppressive apartheid regime of South Africa. During my time in Cape Town, South Africa, I repeatedly heard from young and old South Africans about how pivotal international support in the form of divestment campaigns were to dismantling the oppressive apartheid regime, and how grateful they were for all the work done by millions of unnamed individuals who may have thought their actions would have no real impact.
The Stanford student body did not elect their senators to be perfect mouthpieces – no governmental body in the history of the world has ever perfectly represented each and every person that they were elected to represent. Instead, the members of the senate were elected because the student body trusted in them to make decisions that the senators themselves believe would be best for the Stanford student body. On an issue as important as human suffering, and with an opportunity to make a tangible difference in that human suffering, it would be irresponsible and extremely harmful to remain indifferent.
-Karl Kumodzi ’14, Former Undergraduate Senator (2011–2012)