Dear Members of the DePaul Community:
From May 16-20, DePaul University held a historic campus-wide student election. A referendum was placed on the ballot at the request of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), asking whether the Sabra brand of hummus served in campus dining halls should be replaced with an alternative brand. This question was proposed in light of the fact that Sabra’s co-owner, the Strauss Group, supports two units of the Israeli military, the Golani and Givati brigades. These brigades were found by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to have committed egregious human rights abuses in Palestine.
In a mere four days of grassroots campaigning during the election, SJP managed to mobilize over a thousand students to vote on the first referendum in a student government election in over ten years. The election resulted in a staggering 1,127 votes in favor of the referendum. This accounted for nearly 80 percent of the total 1,467 votes. According to the Student Government Association constitution, 751 students must vote in favor for a referendum in order for it to pass. The votes in favor of replacing Sabra surpassed this number by 376 votes. To be considered valid, however, a referendum must have a total voter turnout of 1,500 or more students. Nonetheless, the number of votes cast in favor of the referendum represents an incredible, landslide victory for our campaign to boycott Sabra hummus.
We would like to thank the Student Government Association for allowing our referendum to be placed on the ballot for a student vote. We also thank the countless students, faculty and staff members who have supported us in our effort to campaign and express our views. And most importantly, we thank the student body for participating in the election and letting the administration know that the vast majority of students would like the university to replace Sabra with an alternative brand of hummus.
Our members feel that the Sabra referendum created an environment on campus that fostered spirited and intense discussion on Israel and Palestine. We opened up the conversation and students on all sides of this important issue were voicing their thoughts and opinions freely. We raised questions that have engaged students and forced them to think outside the box and critically challenge the dominant narrative. We have also reignited St. Vincent de Paul’s legacy and spirit of social justice activism by inspiring students to take action, not only at DePaul but across the nation.
We have campaigned to boycott Sabra as a means of pressuring the Strauss Group and other companies to be more ethically responsible and to comply with international law and human rights standards. As such, this campaign is far from over. Through nonviolent and academic-based activism, SJP will continue our efforts to raise awareness of Israel’s human rights violations and strive for more socially conscious business relationships at DePaul University.
In Peace and Solidarity,
Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul University