DePaul University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has taken a lead role in the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign in Chicago. In November of 2010, students and activists with SJP drafted a formal request to have Sabra hummus removed from all of DePaul’s cafeteria shelves after discovering that Sabra’s owner company maintained direct monetary ties with two particular brigades in the Israeli army credited with grave human rights violations. The group’s request, grounded on the principle that DePaul should not in any way maintain business relations with a company financing the systematic abuse of humanitarian law, was quickly taken into consideration and the administration saw fit to temporarily discontinue any sales of the Sabra product.
However, just days after the administration’s decision, Sabra hummus was reinstated on campus pending further review by DePaul’s Fair Business Practices Committee. Campus administrators deliberated amongst each other and with students both in favor of and against the possibility of divestment, allowing SJP to present a detailed report of Sabra’s connection to specific incidents involving illegal Israeli military action against unarmed civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories. Since then, the administration has opened the deliberation up to the entire student body.
Starting today and lasting until 9 a.m. on Friday, DePaul students are encouraged to participate in a school-regulated vote concerning the sale of Sabra hummus on campus. The students behind the campaign have repeatedly made it clear that the purpose of the campaign is not to attack any one group of people or to punish the DePaul campus by removing all hummus-type products. Rather, DePaul’s SJP has requested the university substitute Sabra-brand hummus with a more ethical company’s hummus in the spirit of DePaul’s Vincentian values.
In order for the divestment process to go to completion, the administration requires at least 1,500 votes with a simple majority-win. The administration has also taken note of the fact that other elite universities considering similar divestment campaigns are watching the events unfold at DePaul. The outcome of this vote may very well help forge the path toward common ethical business practices throughout most major college campus in the United States. It is absolutely imperative that DePaul students have their voices heard by participating in one of DePaul’s most historic moments.
SJP DePaul has also prepared this brief video promoting the week-long vote: