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Bowdoin College students vote: request college divests and condemns violence in Gaza

Students walk near the chapel on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick in 2016.
Troy R. Bennett
/
BDN
Students walk near the chapel on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick in 2016.

Students at Bowdoin College last week overwhelmingly voted to call for the college to divest and condemn violence in Gaza committed by the Israeli government.

Bowdoin College president Safa Zaki responded to the results on Monday by saying the board of trustees will consider the divestment request over the summer and meet this week with students on both sides to discuss their views. However, Zaki said she refuses to issue a public statement on the conflict.

The proposal requests Bowdoin disclose and divest its investments in defense-focused companies. It also calls for the college to publicly denounce what the United Nations calls "scholasticide" in Palestine — Israel’s killing of students and teachers and the intentional destruction of Gaza’s educational system.

Ahmad Abdulwadood is a student leader with Bowdoin Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). He said the group will meet with the board this week but is disappointed in Zaki’s response.

"There isn’t much to clarify," said Abdulwadood. "We are not coming to these meetings [with the board] to re-litigate the merits of our proposal. The student body has spoken, and we hope to advocate and realize the results of the referendum in a timely manner."

The student government referendum passed with 66.8% of the vote. Around 70% of Bowdoin's student body (1,366 students) participated in the election.

"It is remarkable and noteworthy worthy that the student body was able to come and resoundingly support the content of our referendum," said Abdulwadood. "In respect for democracy and out of obligation for the common good, the college needs to commit to honoring the result [of the referendum].”

The Bowdoin Orient — the college’s student newspaper — published an open letter on Friday signed by over 80 Bowdoin professors which requests the College respect the results of the referendum.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.


Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.