College News

One semester after tumult at UW-Madison, Michigan student government passes divestment legislation

After Associated Students of Madison passed controversial divestment legislation last semester, drawing hundreds of protesters, the University of Michigan’s student government passed a similar measure Wednesday.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Just months after the Associated Students of Madison passed controversial legislation to divest from certain corporations — including some that do business with Israel — another Big Ten student government took even more drastic action Wednesday.

The University of Michigan’s student government passed a bill that calls on the school’s Board of Regents to investigate three companies the college does business with — because they operate in Israel. While UW-Madison’s resolution called for divestment from a host of companies and specifically named Israel as a human rights violator, its sponsors claimed not to be affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The Michigan legislation passed with 23 yea votes, 17 no votes, and five abstaining, but it was shrouded in controversy. Like at UW-Madison, the school’s administration made clear it would not be divesting.

“It is important that the university maintain an investment portfolio diversified across a full range of legally recognized entities,” the university statement reads. “To do otherwise would be to increase our investment risk and decrease our investment returns.”

University leaders said they appreciated the student input, but that the school’s “longstanding policy is to shield the endowment from political pressures and to base our investment decisions solely on financial factors such as risk and return.”

At UW-Madison, the administration strongly condemned the legislation and said that it would
“not result in a change in [the university’s] approach.”

The controversial UW-Madison legislation ended in successful lawsuits against ASM for violating council bylaws and a forced apology from ASM Chair Katrina Morrison.

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