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MUSG considers divesting from unethical companies

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Marquette Student Government introduced a recommendation for Socially Responsible Investment and Divestment during Monday night’s meeting that lasted nearly four hours.

The recommendation’s author, Ahmad Murrar, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, explained how the recommendation calls on the university to screen and divest from companies that are complicit with human rights violations.

Murrar said the recommendation begins by stating Marquette’s mission as a Jesuit university where ethics, service and the promotion of justice are key elements.

Five companies are specifically targeted in the recommendation: United Technologies Corp., Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Elibt Systems and G4S. It also states there is not definitive confirmation that Marquette is invested in any of the five-targeted companies.

After meeting with the financial department at Marquette, however, Murrar said he received indication that the university was involved with the targeted companies.

“If I knew about other companies, I would’ve included them in the legislation,” Murrar said.

Murrar said his recommendation for Marquette differs from other divestment movements at colleges across the nation because it does not include specific language regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the meeting, students spoke in opposition and in favor of the recommendation. Jnana Martin, a freshman in the College of Communication, said the recommendation is a “myopic” and “one-sided” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

“This campaign has made Israel and students who support Israel as ‘the other,’ through intimidation, mistruth and alienation,” Martin said.

Martin asked why the recommendation called for divesting from the only democracy in the Middle East instead of focusing on other human right issues across the world.

Students for Justice in Palestine’s President Rawan Atari, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, and SJP Vice President Leean Othman, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the recommendation does not call for the divestment in Israel.

Murrar said the recommendation is meant to focus specifically on Marquette and call for the university to screen and divest from all companies, not just those in Israel.

“It does not mention Palestine, it does not talk about occupation or apartheid,” Murrar said. “It is looking at where we are investing our money and if we are profiting from human rights violations.”

“Why are we not protesting the 200 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the recent brutal massacre of Christian students at a university in Kenya or the beheading of 35 Christians by ISIS over this past weekend?” Martin said.

Martin said divesting from Israel would not solve any issues, and that collaboration needs to happen for change to be made.

“We need peaceful co-existence,” Martin said.

Atari said the recommendation is not advocating for a solution but instead is asking the university to remain neutral by divesting.

“It is very clear what side has been chosen,” Atari said about Marquette’s current investment practices.

“You are either for human suffering or you are against it, that is as simple as it gets,” Othman said. “Jewish lives matter, black lives matter, Christian lives matter, white lives matter and you know what? Palestinian lives matter too.”

Addressing concerns of misconceptions, Atari asked the senators to “look at the legislation for what it is,” when they consider and vote on the recommendation.

Since time was cut short, the recommendation will still be in a period of questioning, in addition to being voted on during next Monday’s final MUSG meeting of the academic year.

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