A poll conducted by the Stanford Review to freshmen, sophomores and juniors confirms that a significant majority of students oppose boycotts, divestment and sanctions targeted at Israel.
288 students voted in the online poll, which was released in the aftermath of allegations that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is yet again planning to hold a vote on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from Israel after failing last year. SJP still has yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter.
Given the Senate has already voted on divestment, only to see their resolution vetoed by the administration, sources speculated to the Review that SJP and Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) were planning a campus-wide referendum. If this remains their plan, the Review’s poll suggests they have a substantial slope to climb.
69% of students (199) declared themselves in opposition to BDS, with support fairly uniform across the three classes. 65% of freshmen, 72% of sophomores and 73% of juniors were opposed to boycotts and sanctions on Israel, suggesting that those jaded by past divestment debates were less likely to support the measure than those who have not witnessed campus discussion on the issue previously.
The results will likely place pressure on SJP and SOOP to justify their rationale for bringing divestment back to campus, given the divisiveness it caused in 2015, the accusations of anti-Semitism levied against past ASSU (Associated Students of Stanford University) Senators, the increasing skepticism towards anti-Israel university movements across the Atlantic, and the fact the administration has already rejected divestment once. If anything, these data suggest that students have become more opposed to divestment after a year than they were when SOOP saw its success in the ASSU Senate.
In April 2016, Stanford senate member Gabriel Knight infamously argued it is “not anti-Semitism” to claim Jews control “the media, economy, government and other social institutions,” as well as questioning the reliability of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
After a media outcry and backlash from the ADL itself, Knight stepped down from his post.
Matthew Wigler, a Stanford sophomore who co-sponsored the anti-Semitism bill in the ASSU and organized last month’s rally after Gabriel Knight’s controversial comments, commented that the poll “demonstrates that Stanford students have an understanding of just how problematic and dangerous BDS really is.” He added that it was “reassuring” that BDS supporters constitute “a small minority of very loud students.”