Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Students Against Israeli Apartheid Pressure Carleton University to Divest!

On March 29, 201 Carleton's Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) staged a protest at Carleton's Robertson Hall. The reason for this protest was that Carleton's Board of Governors (BOG) had refused to hear a motion for the campus-based pension fund to divest from any Israel related funds.  In addition the BOG had decided to lock out all members of the student body save 5 Jewish students and 5 Arab students from attending their meeting that day. No one attended this BOG meeting on behalf of Carleton's Arab students in protest of the BOG's violation of the student body's rights to observe, as well as to be heard at BOG meetings.

Photo courtesy of 'The Charlatan'

The unprecedented support and dedication from SAIA's allies in the lead up to the rally not only illustrated the student, ally and alumni community’s unanimous rejection of the practice of investing students’ tuition money in funding war and illegal occupation, but also showed that the SAIA-led divestment campaign is now a campus-wide movement. 

Ending Carleton’s unethical investments is also part of a broader struggle against the university’s repeated attempts to silence the student body and implement undemocratic decision-making processes. The student-led campaign was motivated by the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel…until it fully complies with the precepts of international law.” More than 400 divestment supporters rallied at every entrance of the building (including the underground tunnel to this building) and to the upstairs floors to challenge the illegitimate decision-making process, and to voice their united message to divest from the Israeli occupation. In an incredible show of solidarity and determination, students and their allies engaged in a diversity of creative protest tactics, ranging from a sit-in to salsa and dabke performances for divestment by Carleton University's 'Divestment Dancers.

BOG members continued to arrive over the period of approximately 2 hours, but many did not actually successfully enter the meeting that was being held upstairs as they would have had to walk through the crowd of protestors in the main lobby. No matter which way the BOG members attempted to reach their meeting, they were unable to avoid the rallying students. Tactics to greet these BOG members included the public shaming of the BOG's refusal to hear their motion, chanting, the following of these BOG members through the crowd and other such tactics.  Most were peacefully and successfully dissuaded from attending the BOG meeting and left instead.  The action ended successfully in the eventual cancelation of the BOG meeting.

Divestment supporters proceeded to hold an ad-hoc, student-run General Assembly in the lobby of the building, voting to: divest from Israeli military occupation; open a Sexual Assault Centre on campus; abolish tuition fees; and create a new, democratically elected and representative membership for the BOG.

The messages Carleton University's students, and in particular SAIA, were able to convey to Carleton's BOG was clear that day!
  1. to divest from any and all Israel related funds in regard to Carleton University's pension fund, and
  2. that BOG meetings will from now on include the student body, or they will not take place at all!
The students did it! This was a HUGE success! Congratulations to SAIA and all that attended! You were incredibly inspiring!  Here is the video that was made at this event! It really was this great!

To find out more or to support Students Against Israeli Apartheid @ Carleton University, please have a look at For a video on SAIA activities, please have a look below!

Posted on YouTube by SAIA Carleton at


1. After Board of Governors Rally, Carleton One Step Closer to Divestment
2. Board of Governors meeting postponed after SAIA rally
3. Carleton students stage noisy protest
4. Carleton students protest being 'locked out' of meeting
5. Personally attended the rally.

~ Sofia Smith

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