Referendum 1: University of Virginia Apartheid Divest

Open to All Students of the University of Virginia

In order to become a signatory for this petition, please review the referendum proposal, fill out the fields below, and check the Honor pledge.


Asian Students Union
Dissenters at UVA
Minority Rights Coalition
Muslim Students Association
Muslims United 
Students for Justice in Palestine

Proposed Referendum Explanation:

This referendum calls for the University of Virginia to submit itself to an auditing process to determine the extent to which University endowment funds are invested in companies engaging in or profiting from the State of Israel’s apartheid regime and acute violence against Palestinians and to immediately divest all funds so identified. Moreover, a yes vote would call for acknowledgment and enhanced support of Palestinian students on Grounds.

Proposed Language:

WHEREAS: The University of Virginia, in its mission statement, recognizes its responsibility toward the “Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world,” and the University further commits itself to serve “in the name of the greater good,” thereby emphasizing its dedication to upholding the highest ethical standards in its operations and decision-making processes, which necessarily include matters pertaining to global social justice and human rights; AND,


WHEREAS: The University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO), which manages the University’s $13.6 billion endowment, pledges to “[provide] investment management services to the University of Virginia and associated organizations to serve the University’s mission.” In alignment with this commitment, UVIMCO’s public communications articulate a clear dedication to responsible investment practices that are conscious of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts, thereby reflecting the University’s ethos and dedication to global stewardship; AND,


WHEREAS: The University of Virginia, in 1987, set a precedent for aligning its investments with its professed ethical standards by divesting all stocks in South African companies, a response to the apartheid regime’s systemic and violent practices of racial segregation, discrimination, and socio-political disenfranchisement against Black South Africans. This decision exemplified the University’s commitment to acting against institutionalized inequality in accordance with its purported values of justice and equity; AND,


WHEREAS: It has been routinely documented by international governing bodies, including but not limited to the United Nations, that the State of Israel has engaged in systemic and violent practices that have led to the diminution of the rights of Palestinian people. These practices align with and fulfill the criteria outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which defines the term “crime of apartheid” as including “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa.” Furthermore, on December 29, 2023, the Government of South Africa formally initiated proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), charging the State of Israel with violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention concerning its actions in the Gaza Strip, ruling on January 26th, 2024 that Israel must take immediate actions to prevent genocide; AND,  


WHEREAS: The University released an initial statement on October 11, 2023, recognizing the “brutal terrorist attacks on Israel” and “the actions of Hamas and the horrific violence that has taken place against civilians.” This message failed to address the crimes committed by the Israeli government and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the University’s initial statement on this issue failed to mention the words “Palestine” or “Gaza,” causing entire student populations to feel unseen and otherized. Although the subsequent statement issued on November 6th, 2023, mentioned the “terrible toll the ensuing war has taken on both the Palestinian and Israeli people,” it failed to condemn any of Israel’s human rights violations since October 7th - let alone condemn Israel’s occupation and apartheid which has lasted over seven decades; AND,


WHEREAS: The University of Virginia and UVIMCO lack transparency within their specific investments and have continuously denied previous requests for transparency in their investments, leaving the University community uninformed of the extent to which the University and UVIMCO are implicated in the preservation of Israeli apartheid and violence against Palestinian people; THEREFORE BE IT


RESOLVED That the University community asks that, at a minimum, acknowledging Israel as a victim of violence should not be separated from acknowledging Palestine as a victim of settler colonialism and apartheid; AND BE IT FURTHER


RESOLVED  That while the damage of erasing Palestinian narratives in the University’s initial statement cannot be undone, the University community requests the University of Virginia to act on its claims of fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion for each of its students by not further ignoring the pain and existence of Palestinian students and community members; AND BE IT FURTHER


RESOLVED That the University community asks UVIMCO to subject itself to an external auditing process to determine the extent to which the University’s endowment is financially implicated in corporations that profit from or engage in human rights violations, including but not limited to the State of Israel’s apartheid regime; AND BE IT FURTHER


RESOLVED That the University community calls on UVIMCO to divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from any and all acts of human rights violations across the world; AND BE IT FURTHER


RESOLVED That a copy of this resolution be sent to

The Board of Visitors

James E. Ryan, President of the University of Virginia

Ian Baucom, Executive Vice President and Provost

Cedric Rucker, Dean of Students

Kevin G. McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Community Partnerships

Ian Baucom, Executive Vice President and Provost

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