Brown University President Won't Act on Student Referendum Demanding School Divest From Israeli Firms

69 percent of the Ivy League university students voted for the referendum

FILE Photo: Andrews Hall at Brown University in Providence Rhode Island.
Apavlo/Wikimedia Commons

Brown University President Christina Paxson said she will not act on an undergraduate student referendum calling for the university to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

The referendum results were announced on March 22. Out of the 3,076 students who voted in the campus elections, 69 percent voted in favor of the referendum.

It proposes that the university “identify and divest from companies that profit from Israeli violations of human rights” and accuses the university of furthering actions that “engage in human-rights violations” for its cooperation with Israel or firms that work with Israel.

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Voting in favor were 27.5 percent of the undergraduate student body of the Ivy League school located in Providence, R.I.

“Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues, especially those over which thoughtful and intelligent people vehemently disagree,” Paxson said in a statement in response to the vote. “As a university, Brown’s mission is to advance knowledge and understanding through research, analysis and debate. Its role is not to take sides on contested geopolitical issues,”

“I have been steadfast in my view that Brown should not embrace any of the planks of the BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement,” she added.