BDS News: McGill Students Vote to Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

On February 22 almost 900 students attending the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Winter 2016 General Assembly (GA) voted on, and passed, a motion in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement with 58 per cent of the vote.

The BDS motion, brought forth by the McGill BDS Action Network, sought that the  SSMU support BDS campaigns through the office of the VP External, and that the President lobby the McGill Board of Governors for “divestment from companies profiting from violations of Palestinian human rights” by bringing the issue up at every meeting. Last year, two similar motions were brought up at the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 GAs, where they were, respectively, postponed indefinitely and voted down.

McGill holds investments in at least three companies that profit from Israel’s activities in the occupied territories: L-3 Communications, Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, and RE/MAX. Following the GA vote a petition in solidarity McGill BDS received close to 2000 signatures.

Motions that pass at the GA need to be ratified online before they can be put into effect. On February 27 results of the online ratification process were announced with 2,819 votes (57 per cent) against the ratification and 2,119 votes (43 per cent) in favour effectively nullifying the motion.

In a statement published on its Facebook page following the ratification process, the McGill BDS Action Network, also known as McGill BDS, thanked it supporters and declared that “the fight is not over.” Melis Çağan, an organizer with McGill BDS, said, “Though we are disappointed with the outcome of the online ratification process, we are proud of the 2,119 students who stood for the rights of Palestinians… And that we have still made history. We passed the BDS motion on the same day as the [House of Commons of the Canadian] Parliament voted to condemn BDS. As history has shown, real change comes from the people and not from governments.”