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To: VUW Senior Leadership & Foundation Board of Trustees

VUW: Divest from Israel and support Palestine

We make the following demands of Victoria University, outlined in further detail below.

  1. Divest all funds held by the university and university foundation with ties to Israel
  2. Implement a Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) policy, both financial and academic
  3. Establish scholarships and fellowships for Palestinian students and academics

We call for Vice-Chancellor Nic Smith and the office of the Vice-Chancellor, the Academic board, CFO, COO, Provost, VUW Foundation board, and Scholarships office to implement these demands.

Why is this important?

On Monday, July 8th, Te Herenga Waka students returned to their studies after a short break. That same day marked nine months of Israel’s genocidal campaign that has destroyed the studies, lives, and futures of the students of Gaza. According to research published in the Lancet journal on July 5th, "it is not implausible to estimate that up to 186 000 or even more deaths could be attributable" to the genocide. In past weeks, Israel continues its relentless attacks on civilians. 

As staff and students of Victoria University, we are appalled that since the closing of the 2023 academic year, no student in Gaza has been able to return to class, no lecturer to a lectern, no scientist to a lab. Not one of Gaza’s 12 Universities remains standing. This is scholasticide.

Gaza university staff released an open letter on May 29th, 2024, calling upon “friends and colleagues around the world to resist the ongoing campaign of scholasticide in occupied Palestine”. On the same day, students of Gaza urged the students of the world to “raise the pace and ceiling of your struggle and your honourable stances, quantitatively and qualitatively, against the institutions, corporations, and governments that participate in the slaughter of our children, our students, and our people”. As members of the University community, we must respond to these calls for support and justice not only symbolically, but also through collective and institutional actions. It is with these aims in mind that we make the following demands of Victoria University:

1. Divest all funds held by the university and university foundation with ties to Israel
The Victoria University Foundation’s $69 million investment portfolio, a significant proportion of which is in international assets, is managed (at least in part) by Nikko Asset Management. Nikko’s international portfolio holds Israeli government bonds, which helps finance their military campaigns. It is likely, therefore, that the University Foundation’s money is invested in Israeli government bonds. Nikko is also invested in Palantir and Safran, large multinationals that supply weapons and military intelligence used against Palestinians. The Foundation must immediately divest from these funds, which directly tie the University’s money to genocide.

2. Implement a financial and academic Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) policy
The University can take a meaningful stance against Israeli apartheid by boycotting companies that finance Israel’s crimes, as well as ceasing collaboration and partnership with Israeli universities, in line with the recommendations of the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

3. Establish scholarships and fellowships for Palestinian students and academics
The University must offer opportunities for students and staff who have had their studies and careers violently interrupted either by the assault on Gaza or the punishing occupation and escalating settler violence in the West Bank. A fellowship was launched to support Ukrainian academics in 2022; the same should be done for those in Palestine.

We, as students, academics, staff and university constituents, want to be part of a University that takes meaningful, material action against settler colonial violence – both in Aotearoa and elsewhere. The demands laid out in this letter are the bare minimum we could be asking of the institution that represents us. We amplify the call of our Palestinian counterparts, and we invite you, the University leaders, to join the collective struggle against settler colonialism, genocide, the denial of Palestinians' futures, and the silencing of their voices.

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Updates

2024-07-10 11:34:11 +1200

100 signatures reached

2024-07-09 16:30:05 +1200

50 signatures reached

2024-07-09 13:25:28 +1200

25 signatures reached

2024-07-09 12:01:14 +1200

10 signatures reached