(JTA) – Thousands of Barnard College alumni have called on the New York school to reject a student referendum asking the administration to divest from eight companies doing business with Israel. The petition was launched Thursday, April 19, hours after results were announced showing nearly two-thirds of the student body voting in favor of the non-binding ballot. Its some 2,000 alumni signers, as well as two college trustees, say they are “deeply disappointed with the actions of the Barnard Student Government Association (SGA) regarding the recent divestment referendum.” “By presenting a nuanced and complex issue as one-sided and simple, it has biased the student body and failed in its duty to act as a neutral arbiter,” it says. The petition calls the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel “hateful.”
In a letter to the Student Goverment Association on Sunday, College President Sian Leah Beilock said that the referendum fails to meet the standards necessary for the consideration of the Board of Trustees and that it would not take action on it. She said that “taking an institutional stand amid the complexities of the Mideast conflict” and potentially “chilling campus discourse” on the subject is inconsistent with the mission of the college, and that fewer than 30 percent of the student body actually supported the proposal.