Letters to the Editors

Divestment an effective and responsible tool

Re: Divesting from ourselves (October 1, 2010)

Dear Editors,

I really appreciated how Mr. Rotman’s article drew attention to divestment campaigns at Queen’s University and how they can operate as a powerful tool for social and environmental justice movements.

But there were some key facts missing from the opinion piece.

Boycott and divestment were instrumental in making the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa a global movement.

Queen’s eventually participated in the divestment campaign and despite what Mr. Rotman suggests in his article, the University did not go broke and students did not suffer as a result.

Divesting from a company does not mean the money is simply tossed away, as the article implies; it is invested elsewhere with due fiduciary concern.

Queen’s University made an ethical and financial stand against an abhorrent system of colonial administration.

In recent history, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND), with the support of then-Principal Hitchcock, the SGPS and the AMS, succeeded in getting the Board and its appropriate sub-committees to divest from companies operating in the Darfur region of Sudan.

This was another victory for social and human justice causes through what is an effective method of non-violent action and solidarity.

The “proponents of divestment,” despite what Mr. Rotman claims, should be taken very seriously, just as the Board, student governments and senior university administrators have rightly done in the past.

As a student and an alumnus, I am deeply concerned about the financial wellbeing of this institution.

But I am equally concerned about the social and political commitments the University adheres to.

I believe Queen’s University as a whole shares this conviction. Our institution has even implemented policies that allow for divestment on ethical grounds, which follows a long-standing tradition.

If monetary concerns completely overshadow our ability to make an ethical stand, then this institution and those who support such a policy, like Mr. Rotman, need to seriously reflect upon the value of education Queen’s University offers.

Andrew Stevens,
MA ’06, PhD ’11

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