70% of Stanford Students Oppose BDS, Bringing Into Question Why SJP Seeks Re-Vote

A poll emailed 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 is planning to hold a re-vote on divestment 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 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 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.

With the exception of class year, voters were anonymized to unique identifiers, which were used to remove the second votes of those who attempted to register an opinion twice. Over 90% of those people who tried to vote more than once were voting “yes” in support of BDS.

One Senator who went on record on condition of anonymity, and who has yet to take a stance on BDS, told the Review that “SJP would have to be raving lunatics to bring this issue to the Senate. They really ought to have Stanford vote on it so we don’t get bogged down on this and can focus on other issues like Who’s Teaching Us and sexual violence prevention.” They said the poll “confirmed what I thought about the likelihood of BDS passing”, adding: “If it is going to fail, why pursue it?”

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” who desire “demonization and delegitimization of the world’s only Jewish state and the Middle East’s only democracy”.

While SJP has thus far remained silent, we have contacted them again for comment on this issue and will update this article if they respond. Cardinal for Israel were also contacted and declined to comment.

Update: This post was updated to clarify that if people voted more than once, only the second and further votes were removed, not the original vote.

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