San Diego/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 30, 2024
San Diego State University Students Plan Walkout to Urge Divestment from Firms Linked to Israel's MilitarySource: StuSeeger, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tensions flare at San Diego State University as students plan a Tuesday walkout in solidarity with Gaza and against university investments in companies linked to Israel's military activities. Echoing a campaign from a decade ago, the current demonstration aims to pressure the university to divest from firms like Boeing and Hewlett Packard, which activists claim contribute to the oppression of Palestinians, as reported by KPBS.

While SDSU promotes respectful campus dialogues, detractors say their walkout is a response to Columbia University's recent decision not to divest, following over a week of student protests, a stance that some see as more obduracy than adherence to principle. This reaction comes even though UCLA Finance Professor Ivo Welch has noted that divestment likely has minimal financial impact on countries due to other investors' quick absorption of sold shares. In the past, universities have backed away from certain investments, with Columbia divesting from private prison companies, Yale from assault weapons retailers, and the University of California from fossil fuels, indicating a capacity for ethical financial decisions, per KPBS.

However, not all reactions to student activism have been supportive. At Columbia University, consequences escalated as doors and windows were broken during protests, leading to the university threatening expulsion and suspension for student protesters occupying a building in defiance of university policies, according to a campus update on Columbia University's official communications. The update emphasized that the institution could not allow its functioning to be "endlessly interrupted by protesters who violate the rules."

The situation at SDSU ahead of the planned walkout is charged — with Hillel of San Diego expressing concerns for the security of Jewish students and maintaining that their ability to express their identities should not be compromised by a hostile learning environment, adding tension to an already contentious issue the University must now navigate. Students for Justice in Palestine at SDSU are urging participants to adhere to peaceful protest guidelines and promote unity during the demonstration, showcasing their commitment to their cause while maintaining order, as outlined on their Instagram page.

In the context of multiple viewpoints and the potential for campus unrest, SDSU has responded with an expectation of civility but also noted the importance of addressing both the immediate safety concerns and the wider implications of the protest actions that have been a source of disruption and anxiety for some members of their academic community.