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Saturday, November 29, 2014

ASUNM agrees on divestment

news@dailylobo.com

The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico resolved their stance on University divestment at a senate meeting Wednesday night.

Resolution 16S calls for the creation of a permanent committee at UNM to review, evaluate and monitor issues related to socially responsible investments. The purpose of the committee is to create a platform for student input and oversight, regarding the University’s investments.

The resolution advocates for UNM to intensify transparency and accountability in its choices of securities, endowments, mutual funds and other monetary investments.

The resolution also urges UNM to dissociate itself and divest from companies that engage or aid in systematic, prejudiced oppression, or profit from human rights violations.

Senator Earl Shank said the resolution is a testament to the students’ ability to come together for the greater good of the student body.

“I think it is great,” Shank said. “It’s a step in the right direction of students banding together to work on the behalf of each other and realizing that compromise is often hard to come to, but necessary in order to accomplish larger goals that involve a greater number of students.”

Shank said transparency is a key aspect of living the academic life.

“I think that an unexamined life is not worth living,” Shank said. “We need to, especially in the arena of academia, have knowledge about as large a pool of information as we can and it starts with this and in the instance of the resolution, we want our students to be as informed as possible.”

President of Lobos for Israel Sarah Abonyi said while the process was strenuous, ASUNM senators played a crucial role in bringing both sides together.

“It was a difficult process and there were some obstacles,” Abonyi said. “The process was definitely effectively facilitated by the senators and I think without them facilitating the process it would have been completely unsuccessful.”

Abonyi said the creation of a student committee is just a step towards UNM students developing a relationship with the administration.

“The student committee that was outlined in the resolution is an incredibly important stepping stone into forming an important relationship with the administration,” Abonyi said. “I think there have been some problems with student movements on campus distancing themselves from the administration, and that’s extremely problematic. I think this resolution effectively allows us to move closer to the administration, so that we can push for socially responsible actions.”

Brittany Arneson, member of Students for Justice in Palestine and vice president of Students Organizing Actions for Peace, said although the resolution is a step in the right direction, more action will be necessary in the future.

“I think we can use this as a first step to come to our University,” Arneson said. “I think it’s going to take a lot more than just a couple of resolutions to really put the pressure on our University but I know our coalition and several other student organizations with senators and (Graduate and Professional Student Association) members are willing to take that time to bring it up to the Board of Regents and the president.”

Arneson said the issue of divestment isn’t about religious divisions, but rather about students coming together to hold the University responsible for its actions.

“This isn’t about religion really, this is about holding our university accountable to making socially responsible investments,” she said. “Its more about a coalition that is focusing on systemic oppression and Lobos for Israel, we are really excited they came to the table towards the end. I wish we could have passed our initial resolution but this is a great first step.”

A copy of the resolution will be forwarded to UNM President Robert G. Frank and the Board of Regents.