An Improper Forum: How BDS Harms Student Governments

The BDS movement attempts to fundamentally change the role of student government, turning a representative student organization into a megaphone for radical and divisive views. Proponents of BDS attempt to divert attention from pressing student issues such as tuition, housing, and safety and hijack the institution to promote a one-sided agenda irrelevant to student needs and supported only by a small minority of students.

This is not to say colleges cannot play a constructive role in world affairs; in the Middle East, for example, students can support positive initiatives to improve the lives of Palestinians, such as building up the Palestinian economy, supporting cooperation, increasing educational opportunities, and decreasing the influence of radical groups who promote violence rather than dialogue. Such steps can make a difference and unite the campus whereas BDS helps no one, and divides students.

How Divestment Debates Harm Students

  • Debating BDS is a diversion from student leaders’ role in advocating for student issues.
  • BDS efforts are divisive, pitting students and faculty against each other and ensuring that everyone loses.
  • The Middle East conflict is very complex; student government is not the proper forum to draw conclusions.
  • Debating BDS puts student government in the role of a model UN and establishes a precedent whereby all the world’s conflicts may become the subject of student initiatives.
  • BDS initiatives usually come to the fore because of a loud minority that often seeks to win through intimidation and the volume of its supporters and to subvert the democratic process.

BDS Initiatives May Harm the University

  • The implementation of divestment will not affect Israel but may hurt students and the university by damaging its financial well-being.
  • Pursuing anti-Israel measures may alienate donors and prospective students.
  • Damaging the economy of the university may lead to tuition increases, layoffs, and other budgetary cuts.
  • BDS campaigns bring unwanted local, national and, sometimes, international attention to the student government and the university and creates the impression the campus promotes intolerance and the demonization of Israel.

ยง BDS causes division on campus, pitting students and faculty against each other and ensuring that everyone loses.