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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

UCLA

BERKELEY • DAVIS • IRVINE • LOS ANGELES • MERCED • RIVERSIDE • SAN DIEGO • SAN FRANCISCO

SANTA BARBARA

SANTA CRUZ

WORLD ARTS AND CULTURES
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE
KAUFMAN HALL, SUITE 150
BOX 951608
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1608
PHONE: 310-206-6699
FAX: 310-825-7507
E-MAIL: SHORTER@UCLA.EDU

November 12, 2014
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing today to offer my support for the divestment resolution being presented to the
Student Council this quarter. While I am only one faculty member, I am not just any faculty member.
I am a professor of Indigenous Studies who regularly teaches about how Native communities need to
rely on organizations more powerful in the world’s markets. Without building allies, the
underprivileged and subjugated would have a much more difficult time asserting their basic human
rights. Additionally, I am a professor who accentuates in my class the ability to think critically outside
of oppositional binaries. And for this issue, divestment, I strongly ask the Student Council to withstand
the temptation to think in binaries. This is not about Jews vs. Arabs. This is not about the Holocaust
vs. deniers. This is not about anti-Semitism or the recognition of the State of Israel. This is simply
about one thing: do we not have the right to determine our own level of culpability in documented and
on-going human rights abuses?
In the 1980’s, the University of California thought that indeed we did have the right to
disengage from the apartheid regime of the South African government. The University of California
withdrew three billion dollars worth of investments from that apartheid state. Nelson Mandela later
credited such acts as being particularly significant in abolishing apartheid in his country. Our fine
institution was a leader in that historic moment. Can we be leaders again?
Divestment is not an attack on a people or nation. Divestment is a simple statement of
separation. Divestment is any laborers and wage earners tool within capitalist economies to assert the
will of the people. For this reason, divestment is not somehow unpatriotic or communist: we divest or
boycott to simply say “not with my money.” I endorse this call for divestment because I would like the
success of this University to be separate from the abuses of others. And for the rest of our lives should

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we not be in a position to look at our degrees, our years of labor here, and not feel proud? Without
divestment, we are saying that we are ethically in agreement with the status quo, the same status quo
that so many others have found to be apartheid.
Please avoid the hysterics and vibrato associated with debates pertaining to the Middle East.
Avoid the binaries of them against us. If you simply ask if we have the right to disengage, to separate,
to divest from those companies who do not agree with our campus and University missions, then you
will see that divestment provides a simple, but very powerful, statement to the globe. That statement
will be similar to the one of the 1980’s in that it will define this campus as committed in both word
and deed to critical engagement in the world, with the suffering along with the privileged, and with the
communities in between. Now is the time to make the statement that our success as an academic
community must not rest upon the profits of unethical corporations.
And lastly, please consider the moral imperative that not to divest is indeed still a proactive
choice. If the Council’s responsibilities are to speak for the will of the students, and that will is
undecided or mixed, than why should the default position be one of investing and engagement. If
anything, we should by default not be investing and later be asked to invest. This is not a philosophical
quandary, but a deeply practical one.
I hope this year’s Council will live up to UCLA’s history as a hallmark of ethical behavior on a
global scale.
Sincerely,

Dr. David Delgado Shorter
Professor and Vice Chair