WPIRG Board of Directors Statement Re: Sever Ties Referendum

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 01/02/2016

Dear WPIRG members and fellow students, 

Based on a vote taken at our Members Meeting on January 22, 2015, the WPIRG membership believes an academic boycott is an effective and just tactic to stand in solidarity with Palestinian students and oppose the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli state through apartheid and colonialist policies.

We know this is a complex issue and we appreciate that so many took the time to thoughtfully consider the referendum question. Based on the countless conversations had during the campaign, we believe that the vast majority of those who voted “no” do not support the human rights abuses; rather we believe many of you voted “no” because you were unsure if the academic boycott tactic was the correct or best course of action, and you were concerned that it might have a potential negative impact on fellow students, faculty and researchers here and elsewhere. Thus the issue of how to handle UW’s ties with institutions complicit in the violation of the human rights of Palestinians remains open. We are committed to supporting a campus community where these discussions can continue with the hope that as students we can develop a shared approach to the pursuit of a more ethical and just role for UW in its external institutional relationships.

The WPIRG Board of Directors would like to congratulate the “Vote Yes” committee for running a principled, eloquent and passionate campaign. While the final results were not what we had hoped, there is much to be proud of. Over 1,800 undergraduate students voted to boycott Israeli universities complicit in the violation of human rights, the largest expression of student solidarity with the struggle of Palestinians ever seen at UW. Over 1,800 students have shown support for an ethical collaboration policy at UW. And many more thousands of students have participated in a reasoned and in-depth conversation on the role of our university in the world. This is how it should be on a campus with a vibrant, engaged and diverse student body.

Everyone involved with this effort should be proud of themselves, from the members of the Palestine Solidarity Action Group, who worked on this campaign for nearly two years, to the Vote Yes committee and campaign volunteers, to everyone who took the time to consider the referendum question and vote. We encourage you to see that you have build a strong foundation for further campus organizing and to take the next few months to think about how you will use this foundation to make change at UW in your remaining years here. You're just getting started and of this we have no doubt!

With solidarity and much appreciation,

the WPIRG Board of Directors