Virginia Tech graduate student senate blasted for adopting BDS motion

Campus Jewish group says that the student body's anti-Israel resolution puts the "campus environment at risk."

Dan Verbin ,

University campus (illustrative)
University campus (illustrative)
Flash 90

A Jewish group at Virginia Tech is calling out the graduate student senate for putting the "campus environment at risk" after the body adopted a resolution on Friday urging the university’s administration to enter into an academic boycott of Israel, including divesting “in compliance with the Boycott Divest, and Sanctions movement.”

The Virginia Tech Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) resolution 2021-22N3 demanded that Virginia Tech “immediately begin to implement the academic and cultural boycott of Israel by following the guidelines developed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.”

It further called on “Virginia Tech administrators and employees who sit on the board of the Virginia Tech Foundation begin divesting all institutional investments from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

The resolution went on to accuse Israel of “ongoing settler-colonial violence” and of perpetuating a “siege of Gaza [that] is a particularly pernicious form of violence against Palestinians” and described Gaza as “the world’s largest open-air prison.”

In a statement on Twitter, the GPSS claimed that it had prevailed against “anti-Semitism” to approve the BDS motion “by significant margins.”

“We are pleased to announce that despite the hate and anti-Semitism directed at the Senate and Executive Board over the past several weeks, the graduate students have spoken and GPSS Resolutions 2021-22 N1-N3 passed the Senate,” the student senate wrote.

Friends of Israel at Virginia Tech responded to the GPSS BDS motion in a statement on Facebook, stating they were “disappointed” with the student body as “anti-Semitic resolutions have no place in any shared governance at Virginia Tech or in our community.”

“Instead of calling for collaboration to normalize relations between Israelis and Palestinians as a way of moving towards justice, or advocating for projects that bring Palestinians and Israelis closer and promote coexistence, the anonymous authors of the resolution chose to pass a resolution that does not benefit anyone in Palestine, Israel, or at Virginia Tech,” Friends of Israel at Virginia Tech said.

They noted that “BDS has a well-documented history of provoking anti-Semitism on campus and we are disappointed GPSS was not more sensitive to that.”

“We call upon President [Tim] Sands, the Virginia Tech Administration, and the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors to denounce the resolution and reaffirm their opposition to BDS and academic boycotts of Israel. Our campus environment is at risk,” the group said.

GPSS represents approximately 6,000 Virginia Tech students on and off campus.