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The Students’ Union should never have proposed the BDS motion

I’m sure everyone is aware of the ‘All Student Vote’ ran by the Students’ Union last week, a forum for Warwick students to have their say on issues that affect us all. Despite this, there were two motions proposed by the SU that were certainly not in the interest of the entire student body and were, frankly, irresponsible inclusions.

I am referring to section 5 of the motion “Warwick University to fully divest from all unethical industries and release all investments”, and the entirety of the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Motion” (BDS). This motion demands that the university divest itself from all companies acting in support of the Israeli Apartheid.

Allow me to state my position before I go any further. I take no stance in this argument. This is a complicated debate that I am uncomfortable in coming to a definitive judgement on. This article serves merely to highlight the issue as I see it, this being the Students’ Union proposing a motion that would potentially alienate a large portion of the student body.  

Shouldn’t the SU put their valuable time and energy into supporting the student body as a whole, instead of choosing one rather large foreign policy point to focus on?

There has been quite a lot of misinformation spread around regarding this topic, with several students claiming the motion would prohibit the sale of Kosher products on campus, as well as banning Israeli speakers from campus. This official BDS movement state on their website that: “The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) calls for a boycott of Israeli and international companies that are complicit in violations of Palestinian rights. Virtually all Israeli companies are complicit to some degree in Israel’s system of occupation and apartheid”This is the source, I believe, of the miscommunication and speculation that arose, and it is easy to see how it spiralled.

One of the main contentions was the fact that Israel appears to have been singled out. The Students’ Union have taken no stance against any other issues around the world, so why is the situation in Israel unique in this regard? This is an issue that is far beyond the scope of this article, and one I cannot justifiably resolve. The main point of contention is the choice of the SU to focus on this issue explicitly, implying that it has more significance. 

By siding with one group, the SU are alienating a large body of students

Why is this in particular an issue for the Students’ Union to be concerned about? It is undoubtedly a crucial concern, one which we should all be aware of, but we should also be aware there are two sides to this argument, both with merits, and both with serious drawbacks. The issue as I see it is that by siding with one group, the SU are alienating a large body of students. Of course, those elected officials are entitled to an opinion, as we all are, as is the way of freedom of speech.

But shouldn’t the SU put their valuable time and energy into supporting the student body as a whole, instead of choosing one rather large foreign policy point to focus on? The welfare of the individual student is currently the most important factor that the Students’ Union should be focusing on, especially given the current pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The SU should keep its focus on issues that directly affect all students, and not potentially isolate some. As a student body we should vote to keep the SU impartial in such matters. Its job is to act in the interest of the entire student body, not to pick and choose which students it supports due to issues beyond their control. 

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