The president of Loyola University Chicago’s student government vetoed a resolution that called for the school to divest from corporations complicit in the Israeli occupation. The veto, which came after two votes in favor of divestment, was applauded by Chicago-area Jewish groups.
Pedro Guerrero, the president of the Loyola United Student Government Association (USA), made the announcement yesterday in a letter, writing that “no matter what viewpoint you hold on the larger issue, this resolution caused harm among the student community.” Guerrero also wrote that the “diversity of thought on campus was not taken into consideration.”
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the Metro Chicago Hillel and the Jewish United Fund–a group that met with student senators after the initial divestment vote–praised the move. “By affirming the need for USGA to give due consideration to ‘diversity of thought on campus,’ President Guerrero and other USGA Senators, as well as the administration of Loyola University Chicago, have reaffirmed the values-based and inclusive culture that have always made this Jesuit university a welcoming home for Jews and other minority students,” the groups said in a joint statement.
A two-thirds vote in the student government is needed to overturn the veto. The first divestment vote passed overwhelmingly, with 26 senators voting in favor. But the second divestment vote on Tuesday evening passed with a much narrower margin–12-10 (with nine abstentions).
The Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter slammed the veto in a statement.
“Although President Guerrero caved into pressure and vetoed a resolution that passed twice, we still see this as a victory and a step in the right direction. Many members of the USGA stood on the right side despite intense pressure, intimidation, and harassment,” said SJP chapter president and student senator Nashiha Alam. “There has been a shift in discourse on our campus. People are concerned about tuition money being invested in corporations that commit human rights abuses in Palestine. There is an energy from a diverse range of students, faculty and staff who want to take action. We are winning.”