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Wednesday, June 07, 2023

During our lifetimes, members of our generation have witnessed events that will define the 21st century. Some of these moments feel very close to home — the 9/11 attacks, for example. Others seem far away and disconnected from us. 

However, regardless of how it may feel, our lives are incredibly interconnected. The decisions we make at UF have an impact on the world far beyond campus. Our tuition dollars can go toward environmental sustainability, economic justice and racial equality; or, they can go toward companies that engage in unethical activities and profit off of social injustices.

A huge injustice is being committed as you read this article — the plight of the Palestinians is one of the greatest human rights tragedies in modern history, one that has resulted in millions of refugees and perpetual conflict in the area. Illegal settlements are being built over farmlands and homes; loved ones are separated by a series of walls and checkpoints; basic necessities are limited; people are jailed indefinitely and tortured. 

I am not asking those who read this article to take a position on everything related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, I feel the need to call attention to the fact that our tuition dollars carry weight: Do you feel comfortable knowing that your money may be going toward companies that are complicit in these human rights violations?

Companies like Caterpillar, Bobcat, SodaStream, G4S Secure Solutions and others are part of an “occupation economy” in which the unethical and even illegal activities of a government are sustained and supplied by international corporations. Some of these companies are involved in social injustices elsewhere — Elbit Systems, for example, constructs walls along the U.S.-Mexico and India-Pakistan borders. 

Companies like these make a profit off the separation of family members. They get rich off of political strife and conflict. If UF wants to be an ethical, globally minded institution or claim political neutrality, then we must divest ourselves of companies that are directly involved in such unethical activities.

Amanda Nelson is a member of UF Students for Justice in Palestine.

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