The Undergraduate Student Government at The Ohio State University introduced a resolution that targets several businesses for human rights violations. The resolution, which passed a little after 12am Thursday morning, establishes an ad hoc committee with the purpose of financial and investment oversight. The committee will likely be comprised of faculty, students, and staff within the University Senate, to “investigate the ethical and moral implications of investments in aforementioned companies which are involved in human rights violations both within the U.S. and abroad.”
Among the targeted companies are: the GEO group, CCA/CoreCivic, Wendy’s, and HP Enterprise. They are targeted for what USG says are actions complicit in human rights violations and against the University’s values of integrity and accountability. They also suggest a plan to divest from the top 200 Fossil Fuel Companies and Energy Transfer Partners.
Not everyone is in support of this resolution. Some believe that it has certain anti-Semitic and BDS implications. Even after being given an opportunity to denounce Boycott-Divest-Sanction, which is a Palestinian-led movement against Israel, USG refused.
Nick Davis, a Senator for the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Studies had this to say about the passage of this resolution:
The passage of this resolution is completely wrong. This resolution has clear anti-Semitic intent and now Jewish students on our campus face marginalization and discrimination. We as students have no right to say how the university spends its endowment until we are contributing. I also find it shameful that the USG leadership decided to hold a secret ballot to vote. Our constituents, who by the way have voted against this kind of legislation as a ballot initiative last spring, deserve better than this.
This is not the first time Ohio State University has been in the news for protests. Just last year, a group of OSU students chose to fast and protest the university’s lease renewal with the fast food chain Wendy’s. The group claimed that Wendy’s violated human rights by refusing to join the worker-led Fair Food Program. The year before that, students occupied a university building very late into the night in protest. The protest was to convince OSU to address several grievances, including divestment in companies with involvement in Israel. The protest ended almost immediately after students were threatened with the possibility of being arrested or expelled.