College Retains Boycott Policy

Dickinson College’s policy of nonparticipation in boycotts has resurfaced following the Dec. 9 Student Senate resolution considering a boycott of Sabra Hummus.

The college’s policy on boycotts is as simple as the name suggests, Provost Neil Weissman said, “we think boycotts interfere with the free flow of exchanges of ideas and peoples, and so we oppose them.” Weissman noted that the current boycott policy “confirms our ongoing relationship with Israeli academic institutions.”

The boycott policy was developed in 1907 when “a British entity was considering boycotting Israeli academic institutions,” according to Weissman. 

He said that the college recommitted to the policy in 2014, “in response to a resolution by the national American Studies Association to join the BDS movement.” BDS stands for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement and is a “Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality,” according to the movement’s website. 

The most recent boycott attempt occurred at the end of last semester, when Student Senate considered a resolution banning of Sabra Hummus from retail areas on campus. Even though Student Senate passed the first portion of the proposal, Weissman has made clear that the college will not implement the policy. 

In regards to who the policy applies to, Weissman said that the policy “applies to the College and its employees in their institutional capacities.” However, he noted that “individual students, faculty and staff are free to make their own judgements.”

When asked if the school would support students in their own boycott, Weissman said that the school would not support them. “If students or anyone choose not to buy Sabra hummus, it’s their choice. But as far as I know, we are not intending to take it off the shelves,” he said.

“We’re strongly committed to the policy and intend to maintain it,” Weissman said. 

Andrea Wrenn ’23 said that, “[…] on an institutional level the college should educate its students and boycott as much as possible for social justice.” She also said that “if this college wants to educate people that change the world and become pioneers than it should lead by example.”

Giuseppe Collia ’20 said that boycott is especially important on environmental issues. “Educating for sustainability requires a holistic approach to decision-making that embodies liberal arts education and promotes an engaged community,” he said, “the college must as a living example of sustainability in all areas.”