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October 25, 2021 4:38 pm
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Graduate Student Senate at Virginia Tech Endorses ‘Academic and Cultural’ Boycott of Israel

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Burruss Hall at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Virginia Tech Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) passed a resolution Friday demanding that the administration begin an academic boycott of Israel, including cooperation with Israeli institutions “complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation.”

“Be it resolved that the Virginia Tech administrators and employees who sit on the board of the Virginia Tech Foundation immediately begin to implement the academic and cultural boycott of Israel,” said a copy of Resolution 2021-22N3, which also accuses Israel of “apartheid, colonialism, and military occupation.”

The resolution also called for Virginia Tech Foundation board members to “begin divesting all institutional investments from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and apartheid,” endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

In a statement on Twitter, GPSS claimed that it had overcome “antisemitism” to approve the measure, which passed 33-13, with 10 members abstaining.

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“We are pleased to announced that despite the hate and antisemitism directed at the Senate and Executive Board over the past several weeks, the graduate students have spoken and GPSS Resolutions 2021-22 N1-N3 passed the Senate!” said the body, which says it governs some 6,000 students on and off campus.

Friends of Israel at Virginia Tech, a campus group, said it was “disappointed” by the endorsement of the BDS movement, which it charged with a “well-documented history of provoking antisemitism on campus.”

“Instead of calling for collaboration to normalize relations between Israelis and Palestinians as a way of moving towards justice, or advocating for projects that bring Palestinians and Israelis closer and promote coexistence, the anonymous authors of the resolution chose to pass a resolution that does not benefit anyone in Palestine, Israel, or at Virginia Tech,” the group wrote on Facebook.

Neither Virginia Tech nor the Graduate and Professional Student Senate immediately responded to Algemeiner requests for comment.

Responding to the vote on Friday, Alumni for Campus Fairness, a nonprofit monitoring anti-Israel activity on college campuses, called the resolution “shameful.”

“As alumni, we value VT not only as a world-class academic institution, but as a safe, welcoming place for Jewish students,” the group said in a statement. “That is why we are calling on the VT administration to condemn this egregious resolution and move swiftly to adopt the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism as countless other universities and institutions have already done.”

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