Note: FAQs were updated as of May 1, 2018 after the College received a letter from the Barnard Student Government Association.
What is the Barnard Student Government Association referendum on divestment?
Barnard’s Student Government Association (SGA) asked students to consider whether SGA should request that the College divest any holdings in certain companies doing business with the state of Israel. On April 18, 2018, SGA announced that the referendum had passed. On April 30, SGA sent a letter (including a dissenting opinion) regarding the referendum to the College.
Did a majority of the student body vote in favor of divestment?
No. In the referendum, 741 students voted in favor of divestment, which is less than 30% of Barnard’s student body. Just under half of the student body voted, with approximately two-thirds of votes in favor of the referendum.
Has the College officially responded to the referendum?
The College responded to the SGA on May 1. On April 23, in light of SGA’s ongoing discussions on this issue, President Beilock sent a message to the SGA representative council clarifying the College’s position and shared it with the community.
What role does the College play in a student referendum?
Such referendums are conducted entirely by the student government; the administration is not involved. SGA is self-governing, and the administration does not craft or edit SGA statements. Student referendums are non-binding: the outcome of the vote does not ensure the SGA will act, and if it does, a request from the SGA does not compel action by Barnard College.
What has been the Barnard community’s response to the referendum?
The Barnard community, both on campus and in its alumnae body, holds diverse views on this topic. Student groups with varying views made presentations and written about their perspectives. Alumnae and others signed a petition criticizing the referendum and asking the College not to act on a request to divest. Alumnae who have questions or concerns or who wish to share their viewpoints are invited to write to Barnard Alumnae Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barnard students are held to the highest standards of discourse, debate and civility on campus. It is imperative that all of us at Barnard work hard to foster a community in which difficult topics can be discussed in an environment free from fear and hate.
Does the College have a policy about divestment?
Barnard considers divestment only when the matter under discussion relates directly to Barnard’s mission, and when there is broad consensus across the Barnard community that divestment is the best means to address the issue at hand. This has occurred infrequently throughout Barnard’s history.
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