Creating new perspectives since 2009

Brown University agrees to Israel divestment vote to end student encampment protests

May 1, 2024 at 2:23 pm

Brown University students set up a pro-Palestine encampment on the main green in the College Green, Providence, Rhode Island, United States on April 24, 2024. [Anibal Martel – Anadolu Agency]

Students at Brown University have agreed to end their campus encampment after the administration committed to a vote on divesting from Israel-affiliated companies.

The organisers agreed to dismantle the Main Green encampment today and refrain from organising any unauthorised protests until 26 May.

Students have been calling on the university to divest from companies linked to the Israeli government and to dismiss charges against the 41 of their peers arrested during a sit-in at University Hall on 11 December. The charges against these students have not been dropped.

The move marks the first significant concession by a prominent American university following a widespread student movement that began on 18 April denouncing the Israeli war on Gaza and rejecting their universities’ investments in companies that support Israel, as well as their government’s blind support for the occupation state.

The unprecedented momentum of the student movement in support of Palestine in the US has since spread to universities in France, the UK, Germany and Australia.

In a statement published yesterday, Brown President Christina Paxson announced: “The devastation and loss of life in the Middle East has prompted many to call for meaningful change, while also raising real issues about how best to accomplish this.”

READ: Every university should divest from the military-industrial complex

“Brown has always prided itself on resolving differences through dialogue, debate and listening to each other. I cannot condone the encampment, which was in violation of University policies.”

She added: “The University has agreed that a group of five students will be invited to meet with a group of five members of the Corporation of Brown University while trustees and fellows are on campus for the May Corporation meeting. The meeting responds to the students’ interest to be heard on the issue of “divestment from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territory,” which was a core demand of their protest action.”

“The students and administration agreed that I will ask the Advisory Committee on University Resources Management to provide me with a recommendation on the matter of divestment by September 30, 2024, and this will be brought to the Corporation for a vote at the October 2024 Corporation meeting.”

Moreover, as a part of the agreement, the university has committed not to expel or suspend students or faculty members based on their known involvement at this time.

The agreement reads: “No member of the Brown community – including faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, or alumni – found to have been involved in the encampment or related activity will face retaliation from the University, including termination of employment or reduction in compensation.”

However, campus community members may still face internal disciplinary action from their school.

The Brown Divest Coalition said in a statement: “This is an unprecedented win that comes over four years after a divestment recommendation was made by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies in 2020.”

“At the time, and in the years since – including in the first days of the encampment – President Christina Paxson had refused to bring the ACCRIP report to the corporation for a vote. This vote is a major concession that affirms the power of our encampment and the national movement of student encampments for Palestine.”

READ: Are American students more ‘Arab’ than their Arab counterparts?