On Changing History: Divest Harvard and the Power of Confrontatiom

By Gram Slattery Campus | April 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm
Divest Harvard co-founder Chloe Maxmin speaks at the Friday night closing rally.

“I think they’re militant, and I don’t think we should be putting our name on a thing that sued the University.”

Such were the words of Daniel Banks ’17, the Undergraduate Council’s Student Initiatives Chair, regarding Divest Harvard. The night was April 12, and the activist group had just introduced an unambitious piece of legislation before the UC that would have allowed Divest to advertise the group’s so-called Heat Week over the governing body’s e-mail list.

The motion failed, 0-27, which I suppose is unsurprising. After all, the UC list would be pretty annoying if everyone could promote their cause du jour on it. But Banks’ statement, and the underlying tone of the meeting for that matter, was telling in that many people in the UC, and in the student body writ large, do think Divest is “militant,” or at least unacceptably coercive and disruptive.

The Crimson’s editorial board, which I nominally sit on, has condemned the movement six times (read it here, here, here, here, here, and here), and criticized its tactics twice, calling the group “radical” and “not open to debate.” Writing for TIME, Aaron Miller ’18 called down the Divesters for “their proclivity for noise and attention.” Ask many other centrist students on campus about the group, and they’ll say that the move away from dialogue and toward action—blockades, lawsuits, et cetera—has been counterproductive and petty.

(read more).

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