US/World News

Student senate calls for ouster of Pitzer college president over Israel  

(JTA) – The Student Senate of California’s Pitzer College has drafted a resolution calling for the removal of College President Melvin Oliver, after he decided to retain Pitzer’s study abroad program in Israel against the recommendation of the Pitzer College Council, made up of students and faculty.

The resolution calls for “enacting no confidence in the President of the College,” and “for his immediate resignation or removal from office,” the Claremont Independent, a student newspaper, reported. Pitzer’s only study abroad program in Israel is held at the University of Haifa. The non-binding recommendation passed earlier this month by the college governing body was spearheaded by proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, according to the American Jewish Committee, which condemned the vote as an “outrageous attack on academic freedom.”

Shortly after the recommendation to suspend the study abroad program passed, Oliver rejected the motion, writing in a statement that, “The recommendation puts in place a form of academic boycott of Israel and, in the process, sets us on a path away from the free exchange of ideas, a direction which ultimately destroys the academy’s ability to fulfill our educational mission.” The college board of trustees in June 2017 overturned a Student Senate amendment enacting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS regulations to Student Senate spending.

The Claremont chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, on Thursday launched a two week-long “Palestine Freedom Week” in reaction to Oliver’s decision and to what it calls Israel’s “Zionist violence.”

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