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Letter: Divestment a thorny issue, students should consider new strategies, partnerships

To the Editor:

In an April 4 op-ed in The Herald, I was impressed with Anuj Krishnamurthy ’19 ’s debating skills regarding divestment in support of Palestinian civil rights. Although he is critical of Brown Divest, his arguments challenge the group to rethink some of their arguments on this vital issue. Having been involved as an alumnus in a similar divestment effort a few years ago over Brown’s endowment investments in fossil fuel and gas companies, I learned that divestment is a thorny issue with no clear answers.

A strategy bridging the divided positions that was suggested at that time has not been mentioned, as far as I can tell, in the current articles I have read in The Herald. Today, comments present Brown as standing alone on the issue, which minimizes any impact Brown might have even if it did divest.  On the fossil fuel campaign, the student leaders worked hard to connect Brown with scores of other universities considering divestment, which is how the campaign against tobacco succeeded at an earlier time. Unfortunately, President Christina Paxson P’19 and the Corporation rejected that partnership as a viable strategy with regard to fossil fuels.

Further, the recent forceful faculty letter in support of Brown Divest argues that the group should be welcomed into a discussion with the administration and others rather than dismissed, as it has been. The theme of inclusiveness promoted vigorously by Brown should include controversial political issues as well. One can be skeptical about divestment and yet encourage the students involved to join the administration, faculty and alums to find ways for Brown to support concerns about civil rights abuses in Palestine and Israel, and wherever they exist.

Tom Bale ’63



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