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Students voting at Fall 2023 Plenary. Photo courtesy of Leo Brainard '27

Students’ Council Proposes Emergency Plenary and Ceasefire Resolution

On Monday, February 19, Students’ Council announced their intentions to trigger a historic emergency Plenary and introduced a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

This resolution is presented by the Students’ Council Co-Presidents, Jorge Paz Reyes ’24 and Maria Reyes Pacheco ’24, and three co-signatory student groups: Haverford Muslim Student Association (MSA), Haverford Jewish Student Union (JSU) board, and Bi-Co Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). 

As outlined in a communication shared with The Clerk, the Co-Presidents have been engaging with representatives from several student organizations since the start of the Spring 2024 semester to ensure that this action would garner widespread community support. These groups, which included Haverford Students for Peace (SFP), Bi-Co Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Bi-Co Chabad, encompassed a diverse range of experiences and perspectives concerning the situation in Gaza. As varying levels of support for the resolution emerged from discussions, MSA, the JSU board, and JVP proceeded as the only official co-sponsors.

“Maria and I thought that introducing a ceasefire resolution would be the best way to approach the issue of campus consensus and exemplify the Haverfordian values of peace and non-militarism,” stated Paz Reyes. “We also cannot ignore the situation in Gaza and how it is affecting so many of our community members.” 

The Co-Presidents explained that the idea for a ceasefire resolution came amid conversations during the Fall semester between students and administrators regarding SFP’s list of demands, which included a call for Haverford to use its position as a prestigious Pennsylvanian and Quaker institution to publicly call upon Senator John Fetterman and Representative Mary Gay Scanlon to support a permanent ceasefire; this became one of two focal demands of the week-long sit-in that took place at the end of the semester. 

The resolution document outlines the effects of the violence in Gaza and Israel since October 7, including the deaths of more than 26,700 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis, the abduction of at least 240 Israeli hostages, the apprehension of an additional 5,000 Palestinians, and the displacement of 85% (approximately 1.9 million people) of the Gazan population. 

The document highlights the responsibility that the resolution writers feel that Haverford holds to call for a ceasefire, making the case that failure to do so would be a violation of its institutional and Quaker values, reflecting the sentiments of many sit-in participants.

The goal of the resolution is to document the Students’ Association’s call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, as well as to urge Haverford College, the College’s peer institutions, and local Philadelphian and Pennsylvanian governments to follow suit. 

“The hope is that this common ground unifies us as a student body to continue advocating for the causes that matter and improving the world we live in for generations to come,” the resolution states. 


As outlined in Article IV; Section 4.02, J. of the Constitution of the Students’ Association, the Students’ Council can trigger an emergency plenary—or “further plenary”—to gauge the community response to a particular topic. For the emergency plenary to take place, a petition must be submitted to the Co-Presidents containing the signatures of 40% or more of the student body. For the Spring 2024 semester, this would mean receiving the signatures of at least 537 students. Once the necessary signatures have been collected, the emergency plenary is to be held at the soonest available opportunity and requires a quorum of at least 75% of the student body—1,007 students—in contrast to the 50% required for regular plenary. Concurrently, the resolution writers must collect the signatures of 200 students in support of the resolution for it to be presented at the emergency plenary.

Once the necessary signatures are collected, the emergency plenary town hall will take place on Thursday, February 29, following standard plenary procedures. For accessibility purposes, and to ensure that students can engage in the voting process despite its unexpected announcement, emergency plenary will be a hybrid and asynchronous process. It will take place over three days of quorum and voting collection, the maximum period permitted by the constitution. The town hall will also be the final day to submit friendly or unfriendly amendments for consideration. Following the three days of voting, the plenary will end with a closing town hall and pro-con debate on Sunday, March 3. If the resolution passes, in line with standard plenary procedure, it will be sent to President Wendy Raymond on March 3 for her consideration and approval. 

Due to the ambiguity regarding the process of emergency plenary in the Constitution of the Students’ Association, the Co-Presidents met with the Students’ Council Election Coordinators to receive their interpretation of the section. The Election Coordinators determined that for it to pass, 75% of students must vote in support of the resolution. 

Based on research done by The Clerk, this is the first emergency plenary of this nature—that is, one triggered by the presentation of a resolution—to be held in documented history. However, further plenaries are not unheard of; just last year, two weeks following the failed Spring Plenary during which students lost quorum eight times throughout a four-hour session, Students’ Council hosted the first emergency Plenary in five years on April 2, 2023.


This resolution and proposal for an emergency plenary is presented in the wake of significant demonstrations of activism at other colleges and universities:

On Sunday, February 11, the Pitzer College Student Senate, in response to “a call for principled solidarity against state oppression,” as outlined in a weekly recap post on their Instagram, voted in favor of resolution 60-R-5. This resolution sought to suspend Pitzer’s study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel and prevent the establishment of any new relationships with Israeli educational institutions, in line with the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The resolution, which passed with a vote of 34 in favor and 1 against, is currently awaiting approval from the Pitzer College Council and President Strom Thacker. 60-R-5 reflects a previous resolution from March 2019, which was vetoed by then-President Melvin Oliver, despite widespread backing from students and faculty members. 

On Thursday, February 15, the University of California, Davis chapter of SJP announced that the Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD) passed a historic bill adhering to BDS practices. The bill, presented by SJP and co-sponsored by 30+ student organizations, institutionalized the boycott of the $20 million ASUCD budget per movement guidelines. 

On Monday, January 29, The University of Michigan faculty’s Senate Assembly passed a resolution that called on the university “to divest from its financial holdings in companies that invest in Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza.” The resolution was approved with a vote of 38 in favor, 17 against, and five abstentions, following a change in wording. The resolution explicitly stated that it does not seek to terminate support for the University of Michigan’s partnerships with Israeli colleges or universities, nor does it imply discontinuation of assistance for research and education endeavors in Israel.

While resolution writers collect the signatures of students, other student and faculty organizations across the United States continue to mobilize for successful action, highlighting the importance and impact of student involvement and activism within higher education. 

“As Students’ Council, we see it as our responsibility to support the issues that are important to the student body,” states the resolution. “We hear the importance of an immediate and permanent ceasefire as lives continue to be uprooted and lost. We believe that we cannot ignore so much pain and loss.”

The Clerk thanks Students’ Council for their assistance with this piece.

Correction: The article initially stated that Haverford Jewish Student Union (JSU) was a co-sponsor of the resolution. JSU board members have since clarified that only the board is co-sponsoring the resolution, not the organization as a whole.


  1. Michael B. Reiner, PhD February 19, 2024

    As an alum, class of ‘76, I commend the student body for considering this resolution. To me, though, it appears that certain very important issues are not discussed:
    1. I see no call for the safe return of all hostages and the bodies of those who died in captivity. Kidnapping civilians is a crime and using those held against their will as hostages is what terrorists do to protect themselves or negotiate better terms… It is dehumanizing.
    2. The call to discontinue military support for Israel should be discussed. I see, however, no similar call to discontinue arming Hamas by its international sponsors. Shouldn’t disarming both sides in a war be advantageous for peace?
    3. Do you think calling for a “permanent ceasefire” goes far enough? After all, what does that mean? Maintaining the status quo? Previous attempts at a ceasefire have lasted only briefly:
    4. Why doesn’t the resolution call for a peace treaty, establishment of permanent borders, recognition of a Palestinian State and the State of Israel by those nations, such as Iran, and terrorist groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah, which to date call for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people?

  2. Sheryl Sitman February 19, 2024

    As an alum of ’87, each day I find myself closer to wanting to return my diploma to Haverford -seriously. How is it, that of all of the events happening in the world, the war in Gaza warrants an emergency Plenary? There are now 7 million Venezuelan refugees and some 19 million Venezuelens in need of humanitarian aid now. Most of the Yemen population is under threat of starvation. 16 million Syrians are currently in need of humanitarian aid. Putin just murdered his opposition. And how about getting on the train for a 30 minute ride into Philly to protest the daily shootings in neighborhoods and epidemic of overdoses – in your own backyard. No, you urgently need to vote on a ceasefire in Gaza (as though it means anything) in a war that Gaza’s Hamas leaders started by entering civilian Israeli towns and brutally murdering and dismembering and burning alive children, parents, elderly, systematically raping women and girls to the point that their bodies could only be identified through DNA testing and taking hostage babies, toddlers, teens, women, elderly. You do this with no regard for Israel’s right to ongoing security or to protect itself. You do this with no regard to the historic or present day facts. You pay suspiciously disproportionate attention to this conflict and are playing a dangerous game that more than hints at an antisemitic agenda. Shame on you for promoting an agenda that directly endangers all 9 million residents of Israel and indirectly, the 15 million Jews left in the world. Shame on Haverford admin and faculty for failing to teach the critical thinking that is so lacking. You are a self righteous, hypocritical and highly ignorant student body. #BringTHemHome

    • Jacques Do February 28, 2024

      It’s not that serious bro. They’re just college students. The fact that other terrible things are occurring elsewhere in the world does not mean you can’t address one that is most salient to you….you graduated in ’87….with all due respect, get a job and stop caring about what (in your own words) irrelevant college students are making a non-statement on. Sincerely, ’22.

      • Haverford Harry March 21, 2024

        Hey bro. So little respect and compassion packed into so few sentences. Product of Haverford 2022 – duly noted.

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