On Nov. 21, the Associated Students of Portland State will vote on two resolutions involving racial justice in the United States.
At the Nov. 7 ASPSU senate meeting two resolutions were read for the first time. The first resolution was to support the struggles of indigenous organizations against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The second called for a financial boycott to impress solidarity against injustice, specifically racialized violence and police brutality.
The “Resolution in Support of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock,” sponsored by the Multicultural Affairs Committee and contributed to by United Indigenous Students in Higher Education, shows support for those seeking to immediately and permanently halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the territory of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and near their water supply.
In recent years the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved dozens of plans to pump fossil fuel from the earth and send it in pipelines zig-zagging across the American landscape. Many of those plans have faced protests. Currently, the Dakota Access Pipeline is in fervent protest.
The resolution asserts that the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the water supply, environment and public health of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and violates the United States’ treaties with the Sioux.
On the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline Opposition Facebook page is a teleSur English video of Dennis Banks, American Indian Movement founder and leader of the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff, saying, “When Standing Rock happened, we said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go support them at all costs.’”
The U.S. Department of the Interior estimates Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has 15,568 enrolled members. In solidarity, thousands of people, including members of more than 300 Native American tribes, have traveled to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Banks asked, “Why didn’t we as Native people band together before like this?”
The resolution further asserts, “TigerSwan, a private security firm contracted with Dakota Access, LLC, the National Guard and the Morton County Sheriff’s Office have escalated against protesters with violence, including the use of rubber bullets, tear gas and attack dogs.”
Dakota Access, LLC is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company. The Energy Transfer website states, “[The project] will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner.”
Energy Transfer estimates local impact during construction is creation of 8,000–12,000 jobs. In addition, ET predicts an increased demand for products and services which will produce an estimated $156 million in sales and income taxes. After construction the estimated annual revenue in property taxes is $55 million.
“I believe there are so many reasons why this pipeline shouldn’t exist,” said Zia Laboff, Student Life director for ASPSU. “One of them is that it is furthering our dependence on fossil fuels. We keep mining and keep destroying the environment with this toxic fossil fuel drilling—let’s keep destroying the planet for this limited resource that is only going to last us a little bit more time just so we can keep that industry going instead of investing in renewables or finding solutions that are actually going to last us.”
This message from ASPSU has been ongoing since last year’s members passed a resolution to divest from fossil fuel industries.
“We hold the value that if enough outside entities speak up on a specific issue it does apply pressure on certain institutions and corporations,” says Alex Herrera, Cultural Affairs director for ASPSU. “The resolution supports people who are doing the work on the ground, and lets people across the country know that they have support.”
A motion to edit and reread the “Resolution in Support of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock” at the next ASPSU meeting was passed 22-0-1 at the Nov. 7 meeting.
The “Injustice Boycott Resolution,” sponsored by the Multicultural Affairs Committee, calls on PSU students “to participate in a voluntary week-long financial boycott of the university beginning Dec. 5, 2016.” The boycott encompasses “the university and university services (i.e. SMSU cafeteria, Aramark services, bookstore [and the] SMSU marketplace).”
“A couple things we’ve talked about are purchasing things like Scantrons and blue books in bulk and giving them out to students for free for the week,” Herrera said. “Purchasing coffee in bulk, snack bars, breakfast bars and giving those out to students throughout the week. Obviously we’re asking students to abstain from purchasing a lot more than just those things so we have to work out how we’re going to go about offering those things.”
“ASPSU calls on the university to put in place a committee dedicated to creating and maintaining cultural competency training for students, as well as sponsoring a student subcommittee dedicated to crafting cultural competency and implicit bias training for CPSO,” the resolution states. Also, ASPSU “calls on the university to revisit the decision of armament.”
“The boycott resolution is about the overall message to support Black Lives Matter and trying to find a way to get that message out,” Laboff said. “Cultural competency means understanding perspectives and cultures that aren’t your own.”
A motion to edit and reread the “Injustice Boycott Resolution” at the next ASPSU meeting was passed 22-0-1 at the Nov. 7 meeting.
In passing these resolutions ASPSU will ask the university to act in solidarity with the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline Opposition and with the Injustice Boycott.
The vote for both resolutions was Nov. 21. Check psuvanguard.com for results.