Divest Northwestern: A Wrong Move for Higher Education
by Nathan J. Lichtenstein | published Mar. 9th, 2015
As a college student, it's easy to forget that a world exists outside of the bounds of your campus. It's even easier to forget that there are other campuses out there with issues entirely different from our own. Recently, I learned of the passage of a resolution by the Associated Student Government (ASG) at Northwestern University, where my step-brother is a freshman studying Journalism, that I consider to be very anti-Israeli. The Northwestern Divest (NUDivest) movement describes themselves as a "grassroots, student-led campaign calling on Northwestern University to divest from corporations that are profiting off of the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands."
Among the corporations targeted by NUDivest are Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and Lockheed Martin. According to NUDivest, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are guilty of providing the fighter jets, helicopters and missiles used in the attack on the Gaza Strip this summer, which lead to the unfortunate death of 2,000 Palestinian civilians — an attack that was provoked by the Palestinian assault on Israel with the use of rockets. Hewlett-Packard has been blacklisted by NUDivest for providing the biometric security systems used at Israeli military checkpoints which "restrict the freedom of movement of Palestinians and reinforce a stratification of citizenship."
Using this same bogus logic, all colleges should then cut ties with Boeing for building the airplanes that lead to thousands of American civilian deaths during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Lockheed Martin for the death of civilians killed during airstrikes by the U. S. in the Middle East.
College campuses should be places where the pursuit of scholarship are unhindered by the assertions of extremist student groups. When discussing this movement, it's easier to relate to if it's projected in the context of the RIT campus. Here, these three companies are familiar faces at career fairs, they are our research partners and our donors. It's hard to imagine our campus passing a resolution to punish these companies for aiding Israel in defending itself, a right that any legal and legitimate nation has.
Restricting what companies a college can interact with because of their relationship with a nation is absurd. Fortunately for the students of who have the common sense to realize the absurdity of the passage of NUDivest, the resolution has only passed through the ASG and is only a recommendation to the administrators of Northwestern University. The Daily Northwestern explains that the recommendation does not reflect an actual change in university policy.
Fortunately for students here at RIT, we have not been faced with a similar piece of legislation. However, this does not mean it is out of the realm of possibility. We need to make sure that we stay level-headed and act on fact, not knee-jerk reaction. Let's hope that the administrators of Northwestern do the same and stop this resolution in its tracks.
Check out an opposing view here!