Ohio State University needs to invest in equality
Contributing writer: Majd Zuhour
Last month, a diverse coalition of alumni, community members, and students at Ohio State University officially launched their divestment campaign. OSU Divest calls on the university to divest from corporations that enable, and profit from, human rights violations.
The campaign intends to end the university’s complicity in aiding and maintaining the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and raise awareness of the current human rights crisis of the Palestinians in that region. As with many similar campaigns that have launched across the nation, this campaign was met with strong opposition and obstacles that could potentially weaken the chances of passing the initiative.
The undergraduate student government (USG) at Ohio State University put forth laws that made it nearly impossible for the students to reach the amount of signatures required to place divestment on the ballot. The student vote needed was dramatically increased from 300 student signatures last semester to 5000 undergrad signatures to be obtained in the span of three weeks. Furthermore, an online petition form was promised to the students but was denied to them last minute because of concern for “fraud.”
But the students involved in the campaign did not allow added obstacles to deter them. After weeks of persistence and constant follow-up, the USG amended the laws into more reasonable requirements. The OSU Divest community appreciated the USG for taking this fair step to increase student participation in civic life and university based decisions.
In addition to overcoming limits that were initially placed on this campaign, the students and endorsers of the campaign have been dealing with oppositional criticism, intimidation and threats. Some endorsers were forced to withdraw their endorsement from the campaign due to the amount of hate mail and threats they received from Zionist opposition. Still, the community behind this campaign has shown incredible dedication and determination. Despite the obstacles, busy schedules, hectic lives, work and exams, this campaign remained a high priority.
The students involved have shown unrelenting and admirable support for one another as they stand together firmly in the face of injustice. Each individual revealed personal stories through a campaign called ‘#HumansofOSUDivest’, shared on OSU Divest’s Facebook page.’ Supporters shared their history, backgrounds and the reason why they’re are committed to the campaign.
The work done and momentum gained during the campaign serves as a hope that one day the Palestinians will gain their justice and their human rights back; a realization, that freedom will not be merely a hopeless dream, but an inevitable reality.
Divestment will not liberate Palestine, but it is a step in the right direction. The Palestinian civil society called on the international communities to uphold boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). It is our responsibility to follow the call from Palestinians to assist in their liberation and self determination. Starting a divestment campaign at our respective universities is a small step we can take to help the cause.
Majd Zuhour is a Palestinian student at the Ohio State University. She is a junior majoring in political science/international relations and minoring in the Arabic language. She is on the board of the committee Justice in Palestine and she is on the OSU Divest campaign board..