SG, student body should debate boycotts

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I strongly disagree with Friday’s editorial, which claims “Student Government is the wrong place to deal with [the Israeli-Palestinian issue] because such contentious issues have nothing to do with the stewardship of this University.” 

Who or what the University supports economically through its investments matters. This editorial serves as a cop-out for debating about world events we all have a stake in.

Regardless of the obvious complexity and intractability of this specific conflict, this editorial sets a dangerous precedent on other pending issues like petroleum divestment and the campaign to improve working conditions in the factories that UT uses to produce its clothing.  It also fails to wrestle with the  historical precedent of  university activists who pushed for divestment from South Africa’s apartheid state at a time when federal state actors turned a blind eye to — some claim even supported — the Afrikaner regime. 

Again, I am not arguing that Israel is an apartheid state. Rather, I contend debates involving the politics of the University’s investments, which fund many of our scholarships and fellowships, should take place with both sides of this issue having a chance to make their case before the students’ representative body. 

With so much private money flowing into the University to sponsor various projects, centers and student scholarships, our community is not served by ignoring the social impact (conservative or progressive) of the University’s dollars.

In an era when the University is a business, its branding, as well as its social conscience, should matter to students, to faculty and to those who have to decide which investments balance the University’s core mission of “changing the world” through teaching and research with the practical needs of everyday funding.

— Travis Knoll, second-year master’s student in Latin American studies, in response to the Friday editorial titled “SG should vote down divestment bill.”