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SJP’s “Bowdoin Solidarity Referendum” passes, leaving future steps to administration

May 9, 2024

On Monday morning, the Bowdoin Student Government’s (BSG) General Assembly announced that the “Bowdoin Solidarity Referendum” launched by Bowdoin Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) passed with a 0.18 percent margin, receiving the required 66 percent supermajority and far above the required 33 percent voting participation outlined in the new policies of BSG’s constitution. Of the 1,366 students who voted (69.55 percent of current students), 913 (66.84 percent) voted in support of the referendum, 452 (33.09 percent) voted against the referendum and one student spoiled their ballot.

Before sharing the results with the student body, BSG sent an email to President Safa Zaki asking her to consider the student opinions expressed by the passage of the referendum. On Monday afternoon, Zaki wrote an email informing students how the College will proceed.

Maintaining her previous stance against institutional statements, Zaki denied the referendum’s request for “a public, institutional stand against the Israeli government’s ongoing scholasticide in Gaza.” Regarding changes to endowment management, Zaki proposed that the Board of Trustees hear from students both in support and opposition of the referendum this week. The Trustees will deliberate on the referendum’s requests for arms manufacturing investment restrictions and changes in selecting future funds over the summer.

In an interview with the Orient, SJP leader Ahmad Abdulwadood ’24 expressed gratitude towards the student body for their support of the referendum and said he hopes the administration will abide by the referendum’s requests.

“We are proud of the students here for their collective and emphatic opposition to remaining silent [on] or complicit in the genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinian people,” Abdulwadood said. “We believe that the College has an institutional responsibility to respect the voices of the student body, and we hope to get a commitment by [the administration] to honor the requests of the referendum.”

With summer approaching, Abdulwadood said SJP wants to solidify a commitment from the administration to honoring the referendum’s requests within the upcoming weeks, despite Zaki’s email stating the process might take months.

“We’re hoping to move on this with speed and respect to the urgency of this moment,” Abdulwadood said. “We believe that the student body is entitled to a commitment from Bowdoin before the summer.”

BSG President Paul Wang ’24 remarked that, while the referendum’s passage does not force administrative action, he is optimistic about Zaki’s response and willingness to work with students thus far.

“There is no obligatory response from the administration, but it’s really awesome to see how President Zaki has heard from students and chosen to respond and work with students in a way that I don’t think other college presidents have been so forthcoming to do,” Wang said.

Following the certification of the results, BSG’s role in the referendum is complete.

In an email to the student body, SJP announced that a group of students will be given 30 minutes to represent the views of the super majority to the Board of Trustees on Saturday. SJP hopes that this meeting will result in a public recognition of the referendum’s requests and begins the process of reforming endowment management in preparation for the October 2024 Board of Trustees meeting.

“As we enter our meetings with the Board of Trustees, we are eager to secure a timely commitment that will add the College to the international chorus of voices standing against this genocide. Our commitment to the Common Good demands nothing less,” SJP leaders wrote.

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2 comments:

  1. Todd Feinsmith says:

    Rape, murder and kidnapping, no problem. Totally justified. “Scholasticide”, whatever that is, bad. Nice job educating these students, Bowdoin.

  2. Jordan Van Voast '81 says:

    Anyone who believes that genocide are not occurring in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli apartheid government is misinformed and/or in denial. The propaganda machine fueled by AIPAC and other Israel apologists has been in motion for 70 years:

    “There are “reasonable grounds” to believe Israel is “committing the crime of genocide against the Palestinians as a group in Gaza,” the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories has said.”


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