Palestine Legal to USF: Cease Voter Suppression of Divestment Referendum

The same school that declared a divestment referendum “null and void” in 2013 is again showing signs of unlawful interference in student divestment debates. Palestine Legal wrote the University of South Florida (USF) today warning the school to cease tampering with the referendum outcome.

Polls opened yesterday at USF in Tampa, where students are voting on a ballot that asks whether the university should divest from fossil fuels, private prisons, and companies complicit in human rights violations. But the ballot failed to include the proponents’ explanation of why they brought the referendum, as university rules require.

Muhammad Imam, a medical student who is active with the coalition USF Divest was an undergrad in 2013 when the USF administration tried to prevent students from voting on divestment because the issue was “political.” Students pushed ahead with the vote but the administration nullified the referendum after it took place.

Iman explains, “Four years ago, USF administrators celebrated 'Mission Accomplished' when they refused to certify the student body’s vote on divestment. But we are still here, and so are USF investments in private prisons, fossil fuels, and companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. Today, we are speaking out louder. And we will continue to do so as long as USF continues to profiteer off the suffering of minority communities.”

Iman added, “We demand that USF stop trying to silence us."

In the letter sent today, Palestine Legal calls on USF “to cease further interference with student speech activities, and to facilitate a free marketplace of ideas at USF.”

The full letter is available here.