Ming DeMers/Sun Senior Photographer

Pro-Palestine groups table in support of the divestment resolution.

April 22, 2024

BREAKING: Majority of Voters Support Ceasefire, Divestment Referendum

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The majority of student voters chose “yes” to the ceasefire and divestment referendum questions by a 2:1 ratio, according to an email sent by Student Assembly President Patrick Kuehl ’24 to the student body. 46.77 percent of the Cornell undergraduate student body voted on the referendum.

“The students of Cornell University have raised their voices together, and spoken out definitively against violence and the killing of civilians,” Kuehl wrote.

Cornell students were able to vote “yes” or “no” on the two referendum questions from April 18 to April 19:

  • Should Cornell University call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza?
  • Cornell has investments in companies supporting the ongoing war in Gaza, which has been deemed as a “plausible genocide” by the International Court of Justice in South Africa v. Israel. Should Cornell University follow their 2016 Guidelines for Divestment and divest from the following weapons manufacturers: BAE Systems, Boeing, Elbit Systems, General Dynamics, L3Harris Technologies, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, RTX and ThyssenKrupp?

The Student Assembly previously rejected a resolution calling for divestment, but voted to hold the referendum with a 15 to 10 vote on March 21. The Assembly released a collection of student-submitted pro and con statements ahead of the referendum.

On the first day of voting, opponents to the referendum argued that the second question allegedly violated the S.A. Charter which states that a “referendum must contain a single or a series of referendum questions that are neutrally worded and call for a yes/no response.” 

The 2016 Divestment Guidelines state that the Board of Trustees “will consider divesting its endowment assets from a company only when the company’s actions or inactions are ‘morally reprehensible,’ constituting apartheid, genocide, human trafficking, slavery or systemic cruelty to children, including violation of child labor laws.”

However, the Assembly stood by the validity of the referendum’s wording and results.

Both pro-Palestine organizations including the Coalition for Mutual Liberation and pro-Israel organizations including the Cornellians for Israel published statements on social media, plastered flyers throughout campus, and tabled in efforts to persuade students to vote “yes” or “no,” respectively, on the referendum questions.

With the majority of undergraduate participants choosing “yes,” the Office of the President will receive the results of the referendum question. They will be required to respond with the president’s intention to either reject or implement a policy concerning the question within 30 days. 

“The results of this referendum are a statement against the killing of civilians, against the structural situation that creates cyclical violence and against the actions of the Israeli Government — not the people of Israel or the Jewish people,” Kuehl wrote.

Kuehl pledged that the S.A. will “do everything within its power to ensure [student] voices are heeded by the University, and that swift and just action is taken.”

Correction, April 22, 5:51 p.m.: This article has been reworded to clarify that the majority of voters supported the referendum, not the majority of students, when accounting for those who did not vote.