Divestment resolution scrutinized by court


The Student Government Supreme Court released an opinion Tuesday concerning the Senate resolution “In Support of Student Voices,” which passed at the Senate meeting Feb. 2. 

After coming before the Court on allegations of unconstitutionality, the resolution was rendered inconsistent with the SG Constitution. It went before the Student Government (SG) Supreme Court.

The resolution requested the USF foundation Board of Trustees end investments in companies associated with human rights violations — specifically against the people of Palestine. 

An early joint resolution by the same title was vetoed by the Student Body President and Vice President. 

Shortly thereafter, the Senate failed to override the veto, but passed an identical Senate resolution.

The request stated that the resolution was outside of the Senate’s jurisdiction, violated Florida law and the equal protection clause of the Constitution, and entered into the jurisdiction of the executive branch.

The preamble of the SG Constitution states that the goal of SG is “giving, guiding and stewardship concerning the allocation and expenditure of the student finances to serve in the best interest of our student body.”

In response, the Court ruled that the resolution was outside of the Senate’s jurisdiction, as it was not related to the allocation or expenditure of student expenses. 

The Court’s decision also stated that the resolution’s third request is in favor of a specific group or people and is also not related to student expenses.

The Court dismissed concerns of the resolution violating Florida law by saying that the law in question doesn’t take effect until July and that it is not within the Court’s ability to determine what violates state or federal law.

However, the request sent to the Court also cited the equal protection clause that says, “the differential treatment of a student based on factors including but not limited to, race, creed, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, parental status, disability, personal wealth, or any combination thereof, is deemed unacceptable.”

While the Court decided the resolution did not target any specific religion, it did find that the resolution violated the racial and national origin elements of the clause by specifically targeting companies that have business in Israel.

Finally, the Court stated that the resolution violated Senate statutes by calling for a committee of students, staff and faculty. 

According to the constitution, the ability to appoint or remove members from a university-wide council falls only within the power of the student body president. 

“The acts that fall under the ruling shall be deemed in conflict with the student body constitution and ought to be stricken and any acts that go beyond its constitutionally vested powers and are determined exclusionary shall be prohibited,” the official ruling, which was signed by Llinas, Ranking Justice Chelsea Lo and Associate Justice Ruth Gameiro, said.

Despite this ruling, members of the SG Senate attended the Faculty Senate executive committee meeting Tuesday afternoon in hopes of presenting the resolution. 

This presentation did not occur, however, as it was not on the agenda and no faculty member offered to yield time to allow the representatives to speak.