In a momentous vote that adds to the growing list of student unions in
Canada, York University’s Graduate Students’ Association (YUGSA) voted
overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution to endorse the global campaign for
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid.
The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil
society call for BDS as a means to pressure the state of Israel to comply
with international law and end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza;
to allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to
return to their homes and villages; and to grant equal rights to
Palestinian citizens of Israel.
“With 29 votes in favor and 7 opposed, the Graduate Students’
Association’s Council passed the resolution to endorse the BDS campaign,
specifically urging the University to withdraw its investments from
Hewlett Packard, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and other
companies profiting from Israeli human rights violations, war crimes and
oppression,” said Wangui Kimari, VP Campaigns of the YUGSA executive.
YUGSA represents over 6,100 graduate students at York University, Canada’s
third largest University.
This resolution passed in the midst of the latest Israeli bombing campaign
in Gaza, which had reportedly taken the lives of 16 Palestinians,
including 3 children at the time of the vote. “It is important for
organizations to not pretend to be neutral while profiting from human
rights violations. And we, as students, need to take a stand against
apartheid wherever it exists, from Canada to Palestine,” said Mona Ayyoub
a Students Against Israeli Apartheid York (SAIA York) member. SAIA York
plans to continue to educate the York University community about the BDS
campaign and is working on a petition to encourage York University’s
undergraduate students’ union, the largest students’ union in Canada, to
endorse the BDS motion later this school year.