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Student activists call for UO to boycott Israel's government

Salem Khoury, the President of the UO chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine, leads a march on Friday, Mar. 15.
Nathan Wilk
Salem Khoury, the President of the UO chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine, leads a march on Friday, Mar. 15.

Student activists at the University of Oregon are asking the school to boycott Israel’s government in an effort to help war-torn Gaza.

UO’s chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine marched to campus in Eugene Friday, together with fellow pro-Palestinian groups and community members.

“Just like during Vietnam,” the protestors chanted, “students say ‘stop the bomb!’”

The rally is part of the national “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” campaign, an effort to sever financial ties with Israel’s military. Students are asking the UO Foundation to divest from companies that they say indirectly perpetuate the war in Gaza.

“There is no purpose and no point in an educational institution putting their investments into arms,” said Salem Khoury, the President of the UO SJP. “That is not within our values, and in light of the genocide, it is something that maintains complacency.”

The SJP claims that UO’s Foundation is supporting BlackRock and Vanguard, two investment firms with large shares in defense companies that supply Israel with military equipment.

Jasper Ridge Partners, which manages the UO Foundation’s investments, has placed the majority of its publicly traceable funds into the two firms.

However, UO Foundation spokesperson Skyler Arruda disputed the connection in an email to KLCC. Arruda said Jasper Ridge Partners considers social impacts in every investment decision its makes for the Foundation.

“Our endowment has no known investments in those two organizations,” Arruda wrote. “It is important to understand that the Foundation has hired Jasper Ridge for investment management and has granted them investment authority.”

Nathan Wilk

Additionally, activists want UO to stop buying devices from HP, citing previous reports that its subsidiary had assisted Israel's surveillance on Palestinians.

In a public statement from 2021, HP noted that it had split into two companies in 2015, and the printer and computer manufacturer didn't work on data centers or servers.

Another targeted product at UO is Sabra Hummus, a brand co-owned by a company which has donated supplies to Israeli soldiers.

Khoury said she’s hopeful following successful divestment efforts at other universities. But she said UO’s leadership hasn’t been responsive to student’s concerns so far.

“If they condemn genocide, and if they believe in the right to exist as a person under occupied territory in Palestine, then they would divest immediately,” said Khoury, “and reassure the community that Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims alike, as well as Jewish community members are all safe and secure on campus.”

As reported by the Daily Emerald, UO’s student senate previously voted in 2018 to impose boycotts on products supporting Israel’s government, but the resolution was later found to have violated the Associated Students' constitution.

A representative of the University of Oregon, which is a separate entity from its Foundation, didn’t provide a statement to KLCC in time for publishing.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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