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Students speak; divestment passes in a landslide vote by 79 percent

Published: April 26, 2013
Section: Front Page, News

The second round of Student Union Elections was held Thursday, April 25 to fill open Senate and Associate Judiciary seats, and most notably to vote on a ballot initiative supporting divestment at Brandeis.

The Brandeis University Undergraduate Divestment Campaign Petition passed with a majority of 79.03 percent voting in favor of it. Abstentions are not included in the totals, according to the Student Union Constitution Article XI on petitions.

Andrew Chang ’16 and Jon Jacob ’16 were elected as Class of 2016 Senators; Anna Bessendorf ’15 and Caiwei Zheng ’15 were elected for the Class of 2015 Senators; Andre Tran ’14 and Annie Chen ’14 were elected to represent the Class of 2014. Daniel Schwab ’14 was elected as a Senator at Large with the other seat unfilled; Michael Abrams ’15, Sarah Park ’14, Maris Ryger-Wasserman ’16 and Claire Sinai ’15 were elected as Associate Justices of the Student Union Judiciary. No senator for Racial Minorities was elected. Any vacant seats will remain vacant until they are filled with a special election in the fall.

“We’re really excited about the outcome and student support for divestment. Not only did we achieve amazing results, but in the process we have developed new student leaders and created a discussion on campus about climate change, which is great,” Tali Smookler ’13, a leader in the divestment campaign at Brandeis, wrote in a message.
“We should be a leader in social justice, and it’s a big step to show such strong student support for this; Harvard voted 72 percent in favor on a similar ballot, and Brandeis not only matched but surpassed this.”

Smookler says the next step is to meet with some faculty and members of the administration, and this vote will be important to share with them. “Because climate change is one of the greatest threats both to our futures—and to social justice—that we have ever faced, I’m thrilled to see the Brandeis student body finally discussing this and coming together to show such great support,” Smookler added.

Andrew Nguyen ’15, another student leader, stressed that “our impact by divesting is political and social, not economic.”

“As a renowned institution with moral authority, we send a clear and strong message to the public and our politicians that supporting these companies are immoral and not a viable strategy—that human lives matter more than paper bills.”
“As students, we have the strongest voice on campus to create change. When universities start to divest all across the country, as over 300 campaigns are underway already, we create a social stigma against the fossil fuel industry and shift political willpower towards solving the climate crisis,” Nguyen added.