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Hunger strike weekend update: President Paxson refuses demands, strike continues

Strikers refuse to submit divestment proposal to ACURM as suggested by Paxson

The protestors demand that any divestment resolution be consistent with the 2020 report compiled by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies.
The protestors demand that any divestment resolution be consistent with the 2020 report compiled by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies.

Editor’s Note: To help inform The Herald’s ongoing coverage, please fill out this form with your questions about the February hunger strike.

On Sunday, 19 student protestors entered the third day of their hunger strike, despite the refusal of President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 to meet their demand that the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, “hears and considers a divestment resolution,” during its meetings that begin this week.

The protestors demand that any divestment resolution be consistent with the 2020 report compiled by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies, which recommended the University divest its endowment from “companies which profit from human rights abuses in Palestine.”

Paxson previously refused to adhere to the report, saying that “the recommendation did not adequately address the requirements for rigorous analysis and research as laid out in ACCRIP’s charge, nor was there the requisite level of specificity in regard to divestment.”


In her recent letter to the protestors, Paxson wrote that the first step toward requesting divestment “is not a Corporation resolution, but rather to submit a proposal to the Advisory Committee on University Resource Management” — the successor to ACCRIP.

Paxson also wrote that she will “not commit to bring a resolution to the February 2024 Corporation meeting or any future meeting of the Corporation.”

In a statement shared with The Herald responding to Paxson’s letter, the strike organizers argued that the ACURM proposal consideration process would take too long, writing that it could “take months — an untenable timeline given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza.”

The strikers have not submitted a proposal to ACURM, nor do they plan to do so, according to strike spokesperson Sam Stewart ’24.

The protesting students also wrote that they “will continue (the) hunger strike as long as President Paxson refuses to engage with our demands.”

In response to the students’ continuation of the strike, University Spokesperson Brian Clark reiterated that the 2020 proposal will not be brought forward for a vote, but that student protesters can submit a divestment proposal through ACURM.

This is not the first time student protestors have been referred to ACURM. 

In a December sit-in, Paxson refused to revisit her decision not to adhere to a 2020 report compiled by ACCRIP. During this demonstration, 41 students demanded full divestment from “Israeli military occupation” and were subsequently arrested on trespassing charges and referred to ACURM.

In Friday’s letter, Paxson encouraged the protestors to look after their mental and physical well-being throughout the duration of the strike and shared University health resources available to students. She added that “protest is also unacceptable if it creates a substantial threat to personal safety of any member of the community.”

The University previously disenrolled four students participating in a hunger strike protesting the University’s partial divestment policy of South African apartheid in the 1980s. The then-administration cited health and liability concerns for the disenrollment, according to a 1986 article by The Herald.


In Saturday’s response statement, the protesting students wrote that the University’s “continued material support of companies that enable and profit from the genocide in Gaza” creates such a “substantial threat.”

The University is not directly invested in any weapons manufacturing companies, but a substantial portion of its endowment is invested through manager portfolios, The Herald previously reported. The University is contractually obligated not to disclose the companies in these portfolios, but told students that none have a focus in the defense industry.

“We are confident that our external managers have the highest level of ethics and share the values of the Brown community,” Clark wrote in a Sunday email to The Herald, “including the rejection of violence.”

A Saturday morning Instagram post detailed the strikers’ schedule for the day: Plans included morning announcements at the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center — where students flooded on Friday immediately after the hunger strike announcement — as well as related arts and literature events. 

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On Sunday, the protestors released a similar itinerary, detailing plans to create art, host educational events and write letters to the Corporation.

At Saturday’s Campus Center morning announcements, the strike organizers sent out an interest form to attending students for potential upcoming events. These included an additional rally on the Main Green, a day-long Campus Center occupation and a “short-term solidarity fast.”

Late Sunday evening, student activist groups shared a joint Instagram post which announced another rally slated for on Monday afternoon.

At this time, no official announcements have been made regarding the solidarity fast or Campus Center occupation.

Throughout the weekend, protestors also displayed banners in dining halls around campus and distributed fliers to student diners. 

Protestors affiliated with the Palestine Solidarity Caucus and Brown Divest Coalition have also distributed written materials to prospective students embarking on campus tours. These fliers, obtained by The Herald, detail the current hunger strike and demands for divestment, as well as discuss recent arrests of student protestors.

The University has restricted campus access for external media attempting to cover the hunger strike, according to an email from Clark to Amy Russo, a reporter at the Providence Journal. Clark cited the University’s Access to Campus for News Media policy, which requires news media to “consult with the Office of University Communications before entering campus,” as part of its reasoning. He clarified that public spaces, such as sidewalks, are available for third-party journalists.

According to various Instagram posts, groups who have collaborated in daily programming for the strike include the BDC, BrownU Jews for Ceasefire Now, the PSC, Students for Justice in Palestine, Sunrise at Brown and Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere.

On Sunday, JFCN began hosting “hunger strike open hours” that will continue throughout the week.

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.

Samantha Chambers

Samantha is a University News editor who oversees the Affinity & Activism beat. She is a sophomore from Tampa, Florida concentrating in Sociology. In her free time, Samantha likes to cook and watch Survivor.

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