Supported by:

Dear President Oliver,


On Easter Sunday, April 16, the Pitzer College Student Senate unexpectedly voted to prohibit Student Activities Funds to be used for payment on goods or services from any corporation or organization associated with Israel. Many student senators were not present and were therefore unable to vote, due to their observance of Easter and Passover.


The timing of the vote is especially concerning because there was no advance warning given about the BDS vote. Students opposed to BDS, many of whom were participating in Christian and Jewish religious holidays this weekend, were not given time to present their side of the issue. Excluding religious students from debate on the issue is undemocratic and antithetical to Pitzer’s values as an institution, particularly the value of “Student Engagement” which guarantees that students are active members of Pitzer’s governance.


The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement was started in 2005 by Palestinian activists. They hoped to push the Israeli military and civilian presence out of the West Bank through economic protest of companies with factories in Israeli settlements. It has since spread across the globe and gained international support, particularly on U.S. college campuses. What these young college activists promote, however, is in no way correlated to bringing about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Not only does BDS directly harm the economic development of the Palestinian people, but also it has failed to gain the support of Palestinian leadership, who see BDS as an obstacle to sovereignty. In reality, BDS is a well organized, thinly veiled smear campaign against the existence of the state of Israel. The official BDS platform includes false narratives (such as claiming Israel started both the 1948 and 1967 wars) which paint Israel as the primary aggressor in the Middle East. It ignores the facts on the ground and only accounts for a singular perspective in a region home to countless intersectional religious and ethnic identities. BDS demonizes pro-Israel students and Israeli students on campus and creates an unsafe environment for all 5C students on the Pitzer campus.


To hold such a divisive, controversial vote on a day of religious observance for many students is outrageous. The Senate also neglected to add this resolution to the agenda. This was a deliberate attempt to silence opposing voices in this debate, evidenced by the fact that only 25 of 39 student senators were present for the vote. This speaks to the same “anti-normalization” policy promoted by Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine which states that its members should not converse with anyone who aligns with Zionist ideologies, for fear of “normalizing” such beliefs. By not allowing for a pro-Israel perspective to be heard prior to voting on this resolution, the Senate directly endorsed SJP’s value of anti-normalization as being synonymous to the values Pitzer College stands for.


We write this letter out of a desire to create a campus climate for productive dialogue on a divisive issue, and we only wish to promote values of peace and inclusivity instead of hate. This vote was unfair and purposefully unrepresentative of the student body.


Please sign the petition below and join us in urging Pitzer President Melvin L. Oliver and the Pitzer College Faculty Executive Committee to evaluate this decision in the context and importance of Shared Governance at Pitzer College.

Sincerely,


The Executive Board of the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance
The Executive Board of Alpha Epsilon Pi of the Claremont Colleges