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Editorial: Pushing forward, not staying in place

If Ivy League schools come with characters, Brown’s is certainly established as one of progressivity and one that challenges established perspectives. Regardless of one’s personal views — or how one perceives the general culture at the University — the general consensus is that the political spectrum at Brown skews decidedly left. But in actuality, many of the University’s official actions are much more in line with the status quo than our reputation would have one believe. The recent and repeated refusals to divest from coal come to mind as examples of how the University has taken traditional positions on controversial issues.

Recently, however, an opportunity for the University to change this trend has developed. The Student Labor Alliance is pushing for the University to officially support the boycott of the Renaissance Hotel, which stems from reported unfair labor practices by the hotel. These allegations, if true, are quite serious, and we would encourage students to boycott the hotel until they restore the jobs of those allegedly fired for protesting. We would like the administration to begin to take braver stands on important issues, in line with our mission of innovation and willingness to buck the status quo.

Brown is a school that does not necessarily accept established conventions. We have done away with core requirements, can take any class Satisfactory/No Credit and can create our own concentrations. Brown takes the view that students should be the masters of their own education, and it is perhaps sometimes easy for those of us at the University to take this position for granted. Regardless of how one feels about this structure, it definitely challenged existing educational theories when it was first implemented. We’ve developed a progressive reputation based to some extent on this structure, but we cannot continue to depend on its legacy as a sign of our progressivity. We must continue to push forward on our school’s official positions.

And if the University fails to push forward officially, its students will simply do so in its stead. After the coal divestment movement failed in its petitions of the University, several students involved with the organization worked with Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, to develop climate change legislation for the state legislature. Brown agreed to sponsor the bill, based on its students’ hand in creating it. This is an example of how, in the absence of support for an original push, the student body can and should push the University to take more innovative stances on issues rather than sticking with commonly held positions. With all the academic resources at our disposal, this school should continue to push forward in our quest to create a better world, rather than staying in place.


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Matt Brundage ’15 and Rachel Occhiogrosso ’14, and its members, Hannah Loewentheil ’14 and Thomas Nath ’16. Send comments to


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