On Thursday, the Student Assembly voted to table Resolution 72 — which urged Cornell to divest from companies that “profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories” — indefinitely. Therefore, the resolution will not be brought to a vote in the foreseeable future. Regardless of the content of the resolution, the role of the S.A., as defined by its charter, is to act in the best interest of the student population and to pass resolutions that benefit the student body as a whole. Even if the S.A. did not want to vote on Resolution 72, we believe the S.A. should adhere to its stated purpose and should have allowed an open forum for student discussion before tabling the resolution.
According to the documents governing the S.A., the purpose of the governing body is to “examine any matters which involve the interests or concern the welfare of the student community.” We believe that all opinions regarding the political and Cornell-specific issues enumerated in Resolution 72 are of interest and concern to many. According to Section 8 of the Assembly’s charter, the S.A. has the authority and responsibility to conduct public hearings, forums and referendums concerning topics of current student interest. We believe that the S.A. failed to do so Thursday by not providing opportunity for discussion until after the resolution was tabled indefinitely.
Despite being overturned by the Assembly, we applaud S.A. President Ulysses Smith ’14 and the members of the Assembly who stood behind him in calling for Resolution 72 to be heard by the S.A. One member of the S.A. said he or she believed that the overwhelming majority of students had no interest in the issue covered by Resolution 72; however, we question how that decision was made before consulting the students. We also criticize the majority of those that voted against a discussion before a decision was made and stifled the democratic purpose of the governing body altogether.
Overall, we call on the S.A. to redefine and clarify the processes that govern the body. We urge its members to listen to all student interests and concerns.