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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Pro-Palestine encampment, SFSU reach divestment agreement

Students for Gaza win a commitment to divest, including from weapons manufacturers
Dan Hernandez
GUPS President Ziniab Imtair addresses the crowd at a rally in Malcolm X Plaza on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)

On May 14, the Students for Gaza at San Francisco State University announced the university’s commitment to divest after two weeks of staging an encampment in support of Palestine.

After Students for Gaza SFSU met with administrators at the Seven Hills Conference Center on Monday afternoon, the organization and SFSU President Lynn Mahoney announced the university’s plans to divest from weapons manufacturers.

“I think everybody’s feeling pretty good. Everybody’s feeling pretty pumped up. I think that it shows the sort of collective power that we’ve all been able to build over the past, almost three weeks at this point,” said Kamia, one of the encampment media liaisons. “It hasn’t been that long, but definitely we’ve been able to build that sense of community.”

SFSU will additionally limit other, indirect investments that violate human rights, according to the press release from Students for Gaza SFSU.

“This is a starting baseline for us to get a place of divestment from genocide, apartheid, illegal settlement, occupation, and other violations of human rights,” said a student from the elected body of the encampment in the press release.

In a statement, Mahoney said she will commit to the following “ambitious timeline:”

  • Form a work group to create a disclosure website that makes the investment strategies of the SF State Foundation and UCorp more transparent by May 31.
  • Call emergency meetings of the Investment Committee as needed to have a draft policy by Aug. 31.
  • Submit Investment Committee-approved revisions to the full SF State Foundation Board for discussion at its September Board Meeting and for approval by December 2024.
  • Launch a disclosure website, including making immediate changes to align with current CSU practice and subsequent changes needed to comply with a revised investment policy.

“I acknowledge again the work that Students for Gaza has done to push SF State to reflect on its commitments to ESG and commit to changes in investment strategies and disclosure,” Mahoney said in her statement. “The proposal outlined above is not just rhetoric or an empty promise but will lead to real change in our investment strategies.”

Pro-Palestine protestors take down tents in the quad on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress)

Sydney R., a media liaison for the encampment, said that while this announcement is something she’s happy about, it’s not the end of the fight.

“I was a little taken aback at how quickly initiative was taken in response to kind of our force against Mahoney. I do appreciate her quick conceding and recognition of the history of this campus,” Sydney said. “I think until we see the full divestment and official removal of any funds that are going to these war efforts then I feel like I’ll finally be able to let out a breath on it. I think right now it’s a promise, but until we see the actual full action of it, I don’t think we’re going to really have full rest until then.”

According to Sprout, a media liaison for the encampment, the demands to disclose, divest and defend were met. The only one not met by the administration was declare, which demands that the university declare the “illegal occupation, colonization, and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and the U.S-Israeli genocide on Gaza.”

“We’re not calling this a victory, right? Because there’s no victory during a genocide. But it is step one of some success that we’ve had doing this work right,” said Sprout. “I didn’t immediately feel happy. It’s a lot of processing like you’re a little hyper-vigilant right of just being like, ‘OK, is everything actually happening the way it’s supposed to?’”

While progress is being made on campus, the goal has reoriented to getting the California State University system to divest, Sprout said. Specifically, going down to Long Beach on May 16 to protest in hopes of persuading the board to divest.

The encampment organizers currently want to connect with other CSU campuses to carry the movement forward, not only into the summer but into the fall and then the proceeding spring session and onward—all in hopes of a CSU-wide divestment.

Students pack up items from the encampment on the evening of Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress)

SFSU’s encampment will now shift to a “day camp,” rather than being a full-time encampment. It will be a temporary organizing hub for students looking to continue the Palestinian freedom movement’s momentum.

There will be a press conference to announce the continuation of the campaign for Palestine’s freedom on May 15 at 1:30 p.m. at Malcolm X Plaza, according to the press release from Students for Gaza SFSU. There will also be an “all-out” rally for the remembrance of the Nakba, which is the displacement of the Palestinian people in 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war.

“This is a commitment for months, for years, for the rest of our lives. To be committed to ending this genocide,” said Sprout.

“We look forward to working with students and the Foundation Board to clearly state and closely align the investment strategies of the Foundation to the values of our University,” emailed Bobby King, the director of communications for the office of the president. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with students and thank all for their patience.”

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About the Contributors
Cami Dominguez
Cami Dominguez, Staff Reporter
Cami Dominguez (they/them) is a staff reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. They are majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. Cami has long had an interest in politics and, thus, local and grass-roots organizing. Born and raised in San Diego, California, they have previously been a staff writer in high school for Pulse Magazine, Canyon Crest Academy's publication. In their free time, they love binge-watching shows they have watched before, hyper-curating specific Spotify playlists, and snuggling up with any Sally Rooney book.
Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Co-Copy Editor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a third-year journalism student and minoring in urban studies and planning. He was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Washington High School. He has photographed and written for Golden Gate Xpress first as a contributor, then as a photographer, and now as a copy editor. His photos have also been published by the San Francisco Bay ViewSan Francisco Public Press, Mission Local, and Xpress Magazine. Neal has also created and taught four SFSU Experimental College courses. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and reading.
Andrew Fogel
Andrew Fogel, Photographer
Andrew Fogel is a photographer for Golden Gate Xpress and Xpress Magazine who’s majoring in photojournalism and minoring in labor and employment studies. If he’s not taking photos, Andrew can be found rooting for the various Philadelphia sports teams. He aspires to be either a staff photographer or a sports photographer in the future.
Dan Hernandez
Dan Hernandez, Visuals Editor
Dan Hernandez (he/him) is the Visuals Editor for Golden Gate Xpress, majoring in journalism and minoring in business administration. He is an award-winning multimedia journalist, applying his skills in both news reporting and press photography. He got his start in journalism at 15 years old as a staff writer for The Advocate at Contra Costa College before becoming editor-in-chief as a high school senior. Outside of journalism, he is probably camping on a road trip, playing water polo, riding his bike or dancing at concerts. He also goes by the nickname “Biscuit.”

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