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Pitzer Student Senate Votes to Suspend Study Abroad in Israel

On February 11th, the Pitzer Student Senate overwhelmingly voted (34-1) to suspend the college's direct-enroll study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel, citing the institution's alleged involvement in "Israeli apartheid" and discrimination against Palestinians. The resolution also blocks the creation of partnerships with Israeli universities until such practices end.

The Senate held the vote in the McConnell Founder’s Room, drawing students, faculty, staff, and alumni from across the Claremont Colleges. Notably present were Nigel Boyle, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, and Pitzer President Strom Thacker. Among the nearly 30 people who spoke in favor of the initiative were student leaders, two faculty members; Prof. Heather Ferguson from CMC and another from Pitzer, and members of the local community representing Los Angeles Jewish Voice for Peace. Even Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), urged senators to pass the measure through a recorded message.

No phones were allowed, and no one spoke against the resolution. Some addressed President Thacker directly, accusing him and his administration of being complicit in the murder and oppression of Palestinians.

In response to the senate's decision, President Thacker issued a statement the following Monday. While expressing gratitude for being part of the conversation, he emphasized that the views of the Student Senate do not reflect those of the entire student body. He reiterated the college's commitment to its foundational mission and the importance of a safe and productive campus learning environment. Thacker stated that resolutions contrary to these core values would not be upheld.

Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) issued a joint statement celebrating the measure’s adoption, calling it “one step closer to a historic BDS victory” and reaffirming their intention to set a precedent for boycotts at other campuses throughout the nation. They vowed to continue their campaign until the resolution passes the next step: The College Council governing body that represents faculty, staff, and students.

Should the resolution clear this hurdle, the final decision on its implementation will rest with President Thacker.


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