Brown University President Opposes Divestment Referendum
The president of Brown University and its student body are at odds over the implementation of a divestment referendum.
Supported by 69 percent of undergraduate students who voted in the school’s annual election process, the referendum seeks to “divest all stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine.”
Expressing her opposition to the referendum in a letter, President Christina Paxson said the university should not embrace the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) movement, which has the potential to polarize campus community members.
“Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues, especially those over which thoughtful and intelligent people vehemently disagree,” Paxson said. “Its role is not to take sides on contested geopolitical issues.”
Paxson also called for further productive discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among campus community members through teaching, research and contributions to diplomacy.
In 2018, Paxson rejected a recommendation from Brown’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility that sought disinvestment from companies doing business in occupied territories.
Last month, Pitzer College president Melvin L. Oliver vetoed a motion passed by the College Council to suspend its study abroad program with the University of Haifa in Israel as well.