Sunday, February 04, 2024

"Hunger strikers for Palestine" at Brown U. are the definition of privileged, spoiled children

The Providence Journal reports:
Brown University student activists announced Friday they were undertaking a hunger strike ahead of a critical meeting where school could consider divesting from weapons manufacturers amid the Israel-Hamas war.

But so far, there are no signs it will.

A group of 19 students under the name Hunger Strike for Palestine said it wants Brown to fully divest "its endowment from companies enabling and profiting from the genocide in Gaza."

 The striking group...said it "will refuse food until the full body of the Brown University Corporation hears and considers a divestment resolution, introduced by President Christina Paxson and presented by student representatives of the Brown Divest Coalition, in their upcoming meeting on Feb. 8 and 9."

The Brown Daily Herald student newspaper reports President Paxson wrote a letter to the students telling them that if they want divestment, there are procedures and rules they must follow:

President Christina Paxson has declined to meet the demands of 19 student protestors who began a hunger strike Friday afternoon, according to a letter Paxson sent to the demonstrators and reviewed by The Herald. 

In her 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.”
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.”

“The bar for divestment is high,” Paxson wrote to the protestors Friday. “It requires a demonstration that the University’s investments in the assets of specific companies create social harm, and that divestment will alleviate that harm.”

“Our campus is a place where difficult issues should be freely discussed and debated. It is not appropriate for the University to use its financial assets — which are there to support our entire community — to ‘take a side’ on issues on which thoughtful people vehemently disagree,” she added.
The dictionary definition of "privileged" is "of a person, or class of people: having or enjoying certain privileges, rights, or advantages; treated with special favour." 

Paxson is saying that there is no problem with the university considering divestment - it has divested from other investments in the past - but the students must follow the rules. The same rules that she had spelled out for them during previous divestment demands. The same rules that apply to all students.

The protesters know the rules. They are saying that the rules don't apply to them. 

That's privilege.

They also plan not to attend classes this week at a school where their parents are paying over $65,000 tuition for them to learn.

That's privilege. 

The y spend their parents' money not on sending food and supplies to Gaza, but on custom T-shirts.

The hunger strike is largely performative. There is little risk involved - the only photo of the protesters shows them all wearing masks, with two of them having even the rest of their faces blurred out. 

As the Journal reports, the students will end the strike on February 9, after the corporation meeting, whether their demands are met or not.

They aren't exactly Gandhi. They are more like children who hold their breath to get their toys. 

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