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Forty-one students stage second sit-in at University Hall, demand divestment, call for ceasefire

Occupation follows SJP, PSC noon rally at University’s investment office downtown

<p>In front of University Hall, students announced the creation of the Brown Divest Coalition, an organization calling on President Christina Paxson to publicly back the ACCRIP report’s divestment recommendations at the next Corporation meeting and support a ceasefire.</p>

In front of University Hall, students announced the creation of the Brown Divest Coalition, an organization calling on President Christina Paxson to publicly back the ACCRIP report’s divestment recommendations at the next Corporation meeting and support a ceasefire.

Forty-one students staged a sit-in at University Hall Monday afternoon, demanding that the University adhere to the 2020 recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies that Brown divest from “companies which profit from human rights abuses in Palestine.” 

Approximately 400 protestors rallied on the Quiet Green at 4:45 p.m. after BDC posted an urgent call for all students to “show your support” at University Hall. All 41 students were arrested and released that evening and are awaiting a court date.

The sit-in follows a rally organized by Students for Justice in Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Caucus that started outside the School of Public Health at 121 South Main St. — the former location of the University's Investment Office, which vacated its space earlier this fall as it undergoes a relocation — before moving up to University Hall. 

In front of University Hall, students announced the creation of the Brown Divest Coalition, an organization calling on President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 to publicly back the ACCRIP report’s divestment recommendations at the next Corporation meeting and support a ceasefire.

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Approximately 300 community members gathered outside of the building shortly after noon when the occupation was publicly announced. Members of the coalition who occupied the Corporation Room in University Hall announced that they would not leave until their demands were met. 

According to a Monday evening statement by University Spokesperson Brian Clark, the students first entered the University Hall rotunda at around 9 a.m. “asserting that they were staging a sit-in.”A few minutes later, Paxson met with the group to discuss their demands, inform them of the history of student calls for divestment and share guidelines for remaining in the building, Clark wrote.

In a 4 p.m. letter to the protestors reviewed by The Herald, Paxson wrote that after consulting with Chancellor Samuel Mencoff, she “will not commit now to forward or recommend the 2020 report.”

Echoing remarks previously made in a March 2021 email to members of the Advisory Committee on University Resources Management — the successor to ACCRIP — Paxson wrote that ACCRIP’s recommendation failed to meet established standards for “rigorous analysis” and “identifying specific entities for divestment or… how financial divestment from the entities would address social harm as defined in the committee’s charge.” 

She wrote that the protestors should “submit a new request to ACURM to examine your concerns,” which she vowed to recommend for review in a “timely manner.”

“When the University uses our endowment to fund violence, it sends a clear message that it does not care for the lives of Palestinians and its Palestinian students,” the coalition wrote in a statement shared with The Herald.

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The protest follows a Nov. 8 sit-in organized by the student group BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now demanding that Brown divest its endowment from “companies that enable war crimes in Gaza.”

At a Nov. 30 UCS town hall, Chief Investment Officer Jane Dietze stated that the University does not “actively or directly invest in any weapons manufacturers, arms manufacturers or defense contractors.” Investment Office officials also denied investing in external managers who specialize in the defense industry.

In 2019, when 44% of the undergraduate student body participated in the Undergraduate Council of Students’ spring elections, 69% of students voted in favor of a referendum that called for the University to “divest all stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine,” The Herald previously reported. ACCRIP, which was tasked with considering “issues of moral responsibility in the investment policies of Brown University,” cited the statistic in its report.

Paxson continued in the letter, writing that “University Hall is a secure building that maintains confidential and privileged information in multiple offices; staying in the building after business hours poses security concerns.”

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Remaining in the building past business hours could result in “arrest, criminal charges and review per the University’s conduct procedures,” she added. 

In a video released on Instagram by BDC, Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes and other staff informed sit-in participants that any student still present after the building closes at 5 p.m. would be considered trespassing. The video was taken down less than 10 minutes after its publication.

The protest follows a Nov. 8 sit-in organized by the student group BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now demanding that Brown divest the endowment from “companies that enable war crimes in Gaza.” Twenty students were arrested for the occupation under trespassing charges, which were later dropped following the shooting of Hisham Awartani ’25 and two other Palestinian students in Burlington, Vermont.

According to BDC, the crime against the Palestinian students “represents an actualization of the safety concerns that Hisham voiced to President Paxson,” referencing remarks Awartani delivered at a vigil on the Main Green in October. 

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As students walked from the SPH to University Hall, they chanted slogans such as “free, free Palestine” and  “Brown divest now.”

Protestors then gathered in front of University Hall as speakers reiterated calls for the University to divest and read statements from Awartani and Kinnan Abdalhamid, another victim of the shooting. 

SJP, JFCN and PSC all expressed support for the demonstrators on their social media pages.

Organizers began a livestream on BDC’s Instagram shortly after the start of the sit-in. Individual protestors shared their personal motivations for participating in the demonstration before the livestream ended. They continued to share their stories via a series of short videos posted on their Instagram.

Some cited their cultural background, ethnicity, moral tenets and personal relationships with victims of the violence as reasons that called them to action.

Throughout the day, BDC posted footage of their occupation. One video showed protestors, arms around one another, singing “I Am Not Afraid,” an activist song written by Peace Poets. 


Owen Dahlkamp

Owen Dahlkamp is a Section Editor overseeing coverage for University News and Science & Research. Hailing from San Diego, CA, he is concentrating in political science and cognitive neuroscience with an interest in data analytics. In his free time, you can find him making spreadsheets at Dave’s Coffee.


Anisha Kumar

Anisha Kumar is a section editor covering University Hall. She is a sophomore from Menlo Park, California concentrating in English and Political Science who loves speed-crosswording and rewatching sitcoms.



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