On March 9, a large number of students came together to represent, discuss and vote on 48-R-43: A Resolution to Support the Withdrawal of OSU’s Investments in Corporations Complicit in Human Rights Violations in the Undergraduate Student Government’s General Assembly. This resolution was aimed at three corporations that are complicit and profit off Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Over 20 student organizations supported the resolution — all of which are extremely diverse and account for a sizeable portion of the student body.
“Divestment” has become a buzzword surrounded by a great deal of unrelated rhetoric, but the concept is simple. Divestment is the opposite of investment. To divest is to get rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds for social or economic reasons. Divestment is a powerful tool that has been used to bring about change. It was instrumental in ending South African Apartheid. Contrary to what seems like popular belief, the Ohio State University has divested before — both from South Africa and from Sudan. It is neither a new concept nor an irrational mission.
I went into the general assembly prepared for the worst, just like everyone else. However, I was still shocked and honestly disturbed by the hypocritical and contradicting statements made by senators. There was a constant and pervasive message echoed by many: “We represent our constituents.” This seemed to imply, “We represent our constituents but not YOU.” Maybe I am mistaken, but I am a constituent — nearly everyone in that room was a constituent. It also undermines the fact that 23 organizations endorsed this resolution, which represents a large number of students.
There was another common theme in this general assembly: USG needs to be diverse and represent diverse students. Yet, despite the fact that people of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, etc., were present and supported the resolution, our voices were still not heard. We were all lumped together as minorities whose families migrated to the United States from some country. This is extremely inaccurate; we do not share the same experiences as one another just because we are first-generation students, and it is disrespectful to assume so.
The general assembly meeting lasted for nearly five hours. The resolution was ultimately tabled.
By the end of the meeting, I was quite honestly tired. I was exhausted, angry and hurt. I came to realize that the majority of the senators do not represent me or any of the organizations and students who endorsed the resolution. I realized that diversity is a tool used by many in power to appear well-rounded, intelligent and socially aware while meaning absolutely nothing. This invalidation was felt by many students, and therefore, until senators speak to recognize and represent minorities who come from different ethnicities, religions, cultures, sexual identities, gender identities and nationalities, USG should stop feigning interest in how diverse it needs to be, as well as how it needs to represent its constituents.
I am a constituent, and USG is not representing me.
Third-year in psychology